The Veterans Affairs Hospital Connector Project has been in the pipeline for about a decade, but $2 million still is needed for the construction of the two-lane road that would improve access to workplaces and medical services for veterans, students and employees.
The Johnson City Commission tonight will consider making an application for that money through a Federal Highway Administration grant. Should the city be awarded the grant, $1.6 million would come from the federal level and $400,000 would be provided by Johnson City in matching funds. The project’s estimated total cost is about $3.8 million
Basically, the new access road, complete with sidewalks, would run from U.S. Highway 11E (West Market Street) near Indian Ridge Road. It would continue along Meredith Street and enter the Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus at Mountain Home on its southwest side.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation, which is in charge of the project, has gone through the environmental review process. Once the project is completed, new traffic patterns are expected to develop, reducing the number of trips and turning movements on West Market Street and Tenn. Highway 381 (West State of Franklin Road) with Oak Drive, which is at the western entrance to the VA campus; and the intersection located at the southern entrance at West State of Franklin with Greenwood Drive/Lake Street.
“Safety improvements will also be realized by reducing the need to cross Norfolk Southern Railway’s mainline track of the Crescent Corridor at the southern entrance,” said Glenn Berry, Johnson City transportation planning coordinator. “The section of State of Franklin Road around the VA campus is very near capacity. This will basically eliminate some of that traffic and some of the busiest turning movements at some of our busiest intersection.”
In 2003, the project received funding in the form of a $852,000 Transportation System Community Preservation grant and about $900,000 from the High Priority Project grant program. The additional $2 million is needed to fund construction and contingency costs.
“We’re now moving through the right-of-way phase,” Berry said.
Commissioners also will vote on a third reading of two annexation/zoning ordinances. The first is a request to annex property known as the Isenberg Properties Annexation and to zone the property B-5 (Planned Community Business) and CCO (City-County Overlay). The second is the annexation of 503 Matson Road and establishing its zoning as R-2 (Low Density Residential).
Commissioners also will consider a request from the North Pole Transportation Authority for special air rights on Christmas Eve.