Lane painting at the intersection of South Broadway and East Main Street as seen from Broadway as a crew member drops cones. (Gary B. Gray/Johnson City Press)
A substantial project at the South Broadway and East Main street intersection is now in the “above-ground phase” and will provide much-needed elbow room at a heavily traveled area of Johnson City.
The passageway not only accommodates a large amount of cars, it also serves as a vital artery for heavy work trucks. For years this area has been a tight two-lane in each direction, but these final fixes will double that capacity and employ a new right turn lane, straight through and left turn lane at each entry into the intersection.
Public Works Department employees were back at the site Tuesday marking off lanes in which traffic will flow while work continues.
“We had to take that crew for a week and use them on the Tweestie Trail,” said Public Works Director Phil Pindzola. “They then moved to the State of Franklin project. But in no later than one week, they will be doing the new curbs on the north side of East Main and then finishing the paving.”
New 5-foot-wide sidewalks are complete on the opposite side of East Main, and workers were making the shift Tuesday. A truck equipped with a paint sprayer marked the lanes and orange cones were set up to guide motorists into the intersection while work continues. Pindzola said completion is still a few months away.
The intersection also involves a piece of the city’s long-tern flood mitigation plan. Nearby businesses have been hit hard during rain events, but major infrastructure fixes have been completed in an effort to address the situation.
The city awarded a $833,000 contract to Elizabethton’s Summers-Taylor to replace old 48-inch underground pipe with a new 3-foot by 12-foot culvert from the Johnson City Housing Authority property, under the intersection and along the north side of South Broadway, where it will empty into the expanded wetlands area. The new culvert has a 36-square-foot capacity — three times that of the old pipe.
“This was a planned intersection improvement, but it just so happened this also was an area needing flood mitigation,” Pindzola said. “Three improvements actually are being made that tie together into one project: putting in a new drainage structure, creating and enlarging a wetlands area and upgrading an intersection to improve safety.”
The biggest problems have originated from overflow of a Brush Creek tributary that feeds down through the Keystone area. Flooding has occurred basically because the pipes meant to carry it were blocked or too small. There also are two legs to the tributary. One starts near Legion Street and runs through Memorial Park, and this has been the main troublemaker. The other runs through the neighborhood and then through small box culverts.
Summers-Taylor was responsible for rebuilding Broadway, including resetting the curbs and repaving the intersection. The city is spending about $250,000 to redo the curbing, create the designated turn lanes, do the final paving and install new, horizontal mast-arm traffic signals, as well as new pedestrian signals.
Pindzola said the city also will install a drainage structure on East Main behind Scotchman Exxon and repave some parking lots at nearby businesses.
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