South Roan work to continue into November

Gary B. Gray • Oct 27, 2013 at 9:47 PM

A substantial project to upgrade downtown utilities now is about a week past the initial completion date.

The project along the 400 block of South Roan Street between State of Franklin Road and East Main Street in downtown Johnson City has closed a portion of the major thoroughfare since early September, and water/sewer line replacement continues, keeping the road closed past the originally estimated Oct. 21 completion date.

The city’s latest traffic advisory said the area will remain closed to through traffic until sometime around Nov. 25, though business owners, shoppers, residents and pedestrians will be allowed access. Meanwhile, intersection upgrades are ongoing at Broadway and East Main streets, and motorists are asked to use caution in that construction area, but progress on another heavily traveled downtown road could help ease congestion.

“Utility crews have completed their upgrade work in the 400 block of South Roan Street and public works crews are scheduled to move in on Oct. 28,” Public Works Assistant Director Mike Arsenault said Friday. “Now that all the trenching work has been finished, crews will be removing the old curbs, sidewalks and remaining asphalt. New curbs and sidewalks will be installed at the same elevation and location as before.

The road will also be reconstructed to the same width and elevation now there, Arsenault said. New crosswalks will be added and constructed with concrete paver brick, and provisions will be made for installing new street lights to replace the existing old style lights and additional lighting will be added where needed.

“Emphasis will be placed on maintaining safe pedestrian travel through the block and providing them access to businesses and residences,” he said. “However, there will be occasions during the project when work will require blocking entry ways to pour concrete. Owners will be notified and the work scheduled to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible.”

This next phase of work is estimated to be completed by Thanksgiving or possibly the week after. South Roan will continue to be closed to traffic until all improvements are completed, and detour routes will remain as they are now.

“I can tell you that Buffalo Street construction is complete for now, and it will be open beginning (Friday) afternoon, so that should ease traffic around that area,” said Anthony Todd, traffic engineer. “Other than that, I don’t know of anything else that’s changed over there at this point.”

A combination of public investments, such as the Founders Park project, the streetscaping of downtown roads and the planned farmers market building, along with private investments like Renasant Bank and Tupelo Honey in the downtown area, prompted the need for water/sewer improvements and improvements to other utilities.

The basic idea is to stay a step ahead of infrastructure needs that are developing now and potentially could develop in the downtown area.

An area of South Roan has been closed since early September, and vehicles have been detoured in two patterns, depending on direction of travel. Businesses and residences have remained open and accessible along the block during the work, though a blown waterline last month disrupted the area for several days.

Detour signs remain posted to guide motorists around the construction. Traffic heading south on Roan Street through downtown will be detoured left onto East Main Street, right after one block onto Colonial Way, right after one block onto State of Franklin and left after one block back onto Roan. Traffic heading north will be detoured left onto State of Franklin, right after two blocks onto Buffalo, and left after three blocks back onto Roan.

Pedestrian access will be maintained, though portions of the sidewalk will be blocked at times during the replacement process.

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