So long, thump-thump

Johnson City Press • Nov 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Things are a lot quieter in Johnson City these days. At least they are if you’re driving south along Interstate 26 East.

That thump-thump is gone.

For those of us who’ve lived here long enough, that rutty ride between the Boones Creek and University Parkway exits was a bit like your uncle who needled the kids at every family reunion. He was a pain in the neck, but he was still your uncle.

Nothing said “I’m back in Johnson City” quite like feeling and hearing the bumps as your tires rolled over the cracks in the concrete. Bigger cities have their skylines. We had thump-thump.

We complained and complained, but there was something about that ride that just felt like home.

Now the thump-thump is a mere memory, thanks to a Tennessee Department of Transportation paving project that smoothed over the seven-mile stretch of I-26 that runs through the heart of Johnson City with a fresh coat of asphalt.

TDOT District Operations Manager Randy Busler told Staff Writer Zach Vance the old concrete slabs were just too “unforgiving” to stay stable over time. Of course, the new 1.75-inch layer of asphalt will still be vulnerable to potholes. Potholes can be filled.

The new layer is a porous asphalt called “open-graded friction course,” which allows water to drain easier, reducing hydroplaning and splashing while improving surface reflectivity.

It may have taken more than three decades, but Tennessee has done the right thing for Johnson City. We owe TDOT and the officials who funded the project our thanks.

Alas, thump-thump, we’re happy to say so long. We’ll take the smoother ride and the safety improvements over your familiar rattle any day of the week.

You will not be missed.