The town was approved for a $300,000 appropriation from the Johnson City Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization to install a new traffic light at Smith Lane and East Jackson Boulevard/U.S. Highway 11E.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said the project also includes a connector road between Smith Lane and Cherokee Street to allow traffic a direct left turn onto U.S. 11E instead of making a U-turn at Second Street.
“There are really only two east/west routes, 11E and Main Street,” Browning said. “We have a tremendous amount of pass-through traffic from large employers nearby. We have over 30,000 vehicles a day.”
A recent intersection improvement at Boones Creek Road and U.S. 11E was also designed to ease congestion for traffic entering and leaving Jonesborough, and this project will provide similar relief.
Right now, motorists on Cherokee Street who want to go to Johnson City must either weave their way through the Justice Center parking lot to get to the Second Street light, or turn right onto U.S. 11E and make a U-turn at the Second Street light.
“The traffic flow where we just had the improvements is equal to traffic flow in front of the hospital in Johnson City,” Browning said. “It becomes an issue of getting people on and off of 11E without slowing down traffic. The state wants to work with us to get them through (town), but at the same time there are safety issues getting people on and off 11E.”
Because the state requires at least 800 feet between traffic lights, Smith Lane was the obvious choice, he said.
A new housing development, planned by Wolfe Development, which will soon be underway on the land behind the Amigo’s and Black Olive shopping center and another housing project on Dan Eldridge’s property, will both use the Cherokee Street/Smith Lane connector as a main outlet. Part of the town’s traffic signal project calls for the construction of that connector road.
The town will purchase the property for the connector road, and Browning said Wolfe Development has agreed to help with grading the new road. Browning said the project will “solve a lot of traffic problems,” in Jonesborough.