One of Johnson City’s most significant commercial corridors will soon get a facelift.
City officials plan to put in a new, pedestrian-friendly streetscape along North Roan Street and are commissioning a new mural for the Interstate 26 overpass at Exit 20.
Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said the new streetscape will include sidewalks, curbing and possibly additional greenery. He expects the work, which will connect into the sidewalk system constructed near the Mall at Johnson City, will extend from Brown Mills Road down to Oakland Avenue and farther as necessary.
There aren’t many sidewalks along this stretch of roadway, and Pindzola said city officials want visitors to be able to easily access businesses on foot.
Pindzola said officials hope to have city crews working on the project this spring with the goal of finishing the upgrade by the end of the year. The city has currently budgeted $250,000 for the project, which includes the cost of the mural. He said the budget will have to extend into the next fiscal year to cover all costs of the project.
The city also plans to put a sidewalk in along Mockingbird Lane, work that Pindzola anticipates will start in the next few weeks.
The Johnson City Public Art Committee is seeking qualifications from artists or art teams for the new mural on North Roan Street, which will be located on the four walls under the I-26 bridge. It will have the theme “Body and Earth in Motion, Wellness and Peace Within.”
The Mural Selection Committee will choose three finalists to develop designs that showcase outdoor activities in the area, such as hiking, camping, biking, kayaking or running. The chosen artist will receive $58,500 for the commissioned work.
The deadline to submit qualifications is 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 5. Those can be submitted on the Johnson City Public Art website, jcpublicart.com.
Pindzola said the project is part of an effort to foster a built environment in Johnson City that encourages people to use recreational amenities like the Tweetsie Trail, Buffalo Mountain and Boone Lake. Officials hope that can in turn induce economic development in the area.
The artwork under the I-26 overpass will be the latest in a spate of murals that have popped up around the city, including one at 398 Ashe St. commissioned in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
The mural, which the city unveiled during a ceremony on Nov. 1, shows early activists, including Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth, symbolically passing the torch across generations of suffragettes and into the future.
Artists have also been hired to paint new murals in downtown Johnson City. The artist DAAS recently completed a mural called “We’ll Always Be Together” depicting three children planting flowers on the wall of 73 Buffalo St., and another mural, completed by local artist Marci Berkhimer, was installed in the newly refurbished breezeway at 216 E. Main St.
It was inspired by the song “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show.