By COLLIN BROOKS
A one-level footprint for the new Boones Creek K-8 was approved unanimously on Thursday, Oct. 20, during the Washington County Board of Education’s specially called board meeting.
The single-story scheme was picked over three two-level options the board had also reviewed. An additional 45,000 square feet of land — or just over an acre — will be required with the one-level option, but it would actually save the county $414,000. The total cost of the project, after land acquisition ($1.65 million) and athletic facilities ($2 million) is estimated just above $30.5 million.
A related discussion about a proposed addition to Knob Creek Road didn’t seem to curb the discussion of the school, but it was brought up and discussed by BOE members.
Todd Ganger asked school board architect Tony Street if he might have to redesign the site plan if a road is built and that sparked a response from Street.
“I think that begs a bigger question,” he responded. “Who am I going to design this school for, I need someone that I am going to answer to.”
BOE Chairman Jack Leonard responded by saying that Street is under contract with the school board.
During the first Washington County Joint Capital Projects Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18, school board members said that was the first that they had heard of a prepared road. Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge referred the school board’s question about the possible project to Washington County Road Superintendent Johnny Deakins, who was out of town on county business last week.
Deakins spoke with the Herald & Tribune on Monday and said that he and Street had conversations earlier in the day and will have more conversations next week regarding the road issue. He also said that the county is doing a traffic count, for a duration of three days, on Highland Church Road and around the Boones Creek schools in order to calculate the amount of traffic that the roads currently handle.
“That is something that we are doing right now to see what kinds of effects will happen on Highland Church Road,” said Deakins.
Deakins said that Knob Creek is one of the main routes for the county and that right now there are 8,008 cars a day going under the one-lane underpass each day.
Expanding the road isn’t something that was spawned with the planned construction of the school, it was first brought up when the county created a 30-year plan for their roads, Deakins said. The two top priorities on that list for the highway department are a Highland Church Road – Knob Creek Road connector and Highland Church – Shadden Road connector.
Even though Street and Deakins hadn’t spoken to each other about the topic, the two both agreed on separate occasions that Highland Church would need to be widened in order to handle the swell of cars a school will cause.
This plan, according to Eldridge, preceded him as Mayor.
“Johnson City and Washington County have been working on this Knob Creek Road thing for 25 years,” said Eldridge, who mentioned that he and Johnson City Manager, Pete Peterson, along with others met about Knob Creek Road on Monday.
Elridge said new traffic from the school isn’t just a county concern. “We had a meeting with TDOT and they want to work with us and the county highway department and do a better job of planning the traffic for this new school — ingress and egress — than what was done at Grandview or Ridgeview. Neither one of those situations are good at all,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge said those combined concerns mean that the school board’s architect needs to be communicating with Deakins, the highway department and TDOT to make sure that the traffic situation is handled properly.
Deakins said that more would be known about the situation next week and that he hoped to be able to share numbers as soon as they were available.