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City lays groundwork for roadways, commercial development

Gary B. Gray • Sep 20, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Johnson City commissioners on Thursday approved the first phase of design on the Lark Street Extension Project by awarding Littlejohn Engineering Associates about $14,000 to perform services, such as required environmental surveys and reports, environmental engineering documentation and impact assessments.

This first design phase will lead to construction of two new roadways, it also will lay the initial groundwork for a connection to the other side of West Market that will facilitate the infrastructure needed to develop the area and help open an economic door in and around 30 acres of city-owned land at the former National Guard Armory site.

The first two-lane road will run through the now-rundown Optimist Park and across the current animal shelter property on Sells Avenue.

Once the animal shelter is able to relocate to its new location, Guy Wilson plans to construct Clinical Management Concepts just off the new road. The owner of the coming 11,000-square-foot pharmaceutical distribution and compounding facility in Franklin Medical Park requested that a new access road be built from West Market Street to North State of Franklin Road via Lark Street to facilitate truck traffic as the facility comes online.

Wilson has said the company is set to begin production soon, bringing with it 76 jobs and an annual payroll of about $4.5 million. Expansion is expected, and the company has reported that an additional 25 employees will be hired over the subsequent three years.

The state has committed funds through the Tennessee Department of Transportation State Industrial Access Program for grading, paving and drainage.

“Since we are using state money on this project, we must do this phase,” said City Manager Pete Peterson.

The two lanes of Lark Street will be built during the first phase. The roadway will tie into the existing Lark Street. The two northern lanes on Optimist Street — the roadway connecting Lark to State of Franklin Road — also will be built during this phase.

A 10-foot-wide concrete multi-purpose trail will be installed on the western side of the roadway from Market Street to Optimist Street. It will connect to the existing asphalt trail located near the proposed new road. From Optimist Street to the existing Lark Street there will be a 5-foot sidewalk and a 2-foot utility strip on the western side.

Optimist Street will intersect with Lark Street and State of Franklin Road with both left and right turn lanes. There will be a 5-foot-wide sidewalk and a 2-foot-wide utility strip on the northern side from Lark to State of Franklin.

Both roadways will be located on city-owned property. Right-of-way for the roadway will be cut out of existing tracts to construct the complete build-out. This will include the addition of through lanes and turning lanes to both Lark Street and Optimist Street. The remaining property will be subdivided as needed to make viable tracts for development of commercial property.

TDOT will fund the grading, paving and drainage on the project. The city will fund the curb, gutter, sidewalk and trail. It also is paying for the environmental clearance and documentation required by TDOT.

Meanwhile, the city now has four taxi companies.

Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois reported to commissioners that a lieutenant had investigated reports of alleged wrongdoing in the city by Reliable Taxi and Delivery Service.

Representatives from two local companies had complained that the Piney Flats-based company had been soliciting their services here illegally.

“There is no evidence to support that they were in Johnson City doing business illegally,” Sirois told commissioners. “It would be my recommendation that the commission grant the company a Vehicle for Hire Certification.”

Reliable Taxi has an office off Buffalo Street. It now joins WW Cab Co., Trinity Taxi and ACE Taxi Co. as legal and licensed operators in Johnson City.

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