Work begins at Exit 17 in Boones Creek

Johnson City Press • Updated Jul 8, 2019 at 7:21 PM

Work is set to begin this week on upgrading the Interstate 26 interchange at Exit 17 in the Boones Creek.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation said the project begins with the contractor re-striping and placing barrier walls on Tenn. Highway 354 in the section of Boones Creek Road underneath the I-26 overpass bridges.

This work is being done in preparation of a 12-week closure of the existing southbound lane of Boones Creek Road under the overpass bridges.

Southbound traffic will be shifted to the existing center turn lane, and that lane will become the southbound travel lane during this time. This closure is needed to give the  contractor working space to construct a new sewer line through this project.

Once the closure is in place, the contractor will be working 24-hours, five days a week, to finish the sewer line construction. Motorists can expect traffic delays in this area during this time, and are asked to use extreme caution when driving through the work zone.

This project is part of the widening and realignment of Boones Creek Road, as well as reconfiguring the entry and exit ramps of I-26. When completed, the exit will become a  “diverging diamond” interchange.

The project’s construction contract has been awarded to Summers-Taylor Inc. of Elizabethton at a cost of $15.27 million. The projected completion date for the work is on or before Aug. 30, 2020.

The new Boones Creek interchange will be similar to the Interstate 40 Exit 407 interchange in Sevier County, and is the first of its kind in Washington County. Work on the diverging diamond at Exit 17 will temporarily shift traffic moving along Boones Creek Road to the left side while crossing underneath Interstate 26, allowing for direct left turns onto the entrance ramps without waiting at an additional red light.

Created by a graduate student in the early 2000s, the concept has become a growing trend among transportation departments in the United States. In addition to being more cost efficient, a study of the diverging diamond in Springfield, Missouri, showed a 60 percent reduction in collisions compared to the traditional design.

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