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You could be the driver of TDOT's I-26 plans

Johnson City Press • Apr 9, 2019 at 8:42 AM

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is studying Interstate 26 and it wants you, the people that regularly drive it, to have some input into shaping its future.

The “multimodal corridor study” started by the department in September will look for transportation problems along I-26 and two other interstates in Tennessee and come up with a prioritized project list to help solve them.

It’s been a long time coming for the stretch of road from North Carolina through Erwin, Johnson City and Kingsport. According to Johnson City Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization manager Glenn Berry, I-26 hasn’t been the subject of a study like this since its official designation in 2003.

Think of the growth we’ve seen over the last 15 years. Based on local calculations, an average 60,000 vehicles travel the interstate corridor daily.

Those vehicles are commuters going to work or college classes and then home again. They’re locals using the interstate to quickly get from one side of town to the other. And they’re visitors who have heard about the great things our region has to offer and are coming to check it out.

For most of us, I-26 — and I-181 and U.S. 23 before it — has long been a vital roadway linking the Tri-Cities.

We’re glad TDOT is giving us the opportunity to share our thoughts on this important artery, and we encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of it.

We applauded when the state finally paved over the pesky joints in the old, bumpy concrete surface that plagued our vehicles’ suspensions. We cheered when construction crews finished the auxiliary lane at the University Parkway exit to ease some of the congestion there. We’re anxiously awaiting the interchange project at the Boones Creek exit that will hopefully shorten the line of cars waiting everyday on the off ramp.

But there’s still work to be done.

We’ve written in the past about the need to widen the interstate through Johnson City to accommodate our growing community. We’d also like to see less-confusing interchanges at the State of Franklin and downtown Johnson City exits.

We don’t want to be the only voices answering TDOT’s call for opinions, however.

Before the state wraps up its public comments phase at the end of the year, we want everyone with a thought on bettering the interstate to send it in.

Answer a few questions on TDOT’s online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/QZHRQJ7. Members of the public may also voice their opinions at a meeting at 5:30 p.m. on May 9 at Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St.

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