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Jonesborough leaders to address tractor trailers in downtown

Jonesborough’s Traffic Advisory Committee has spent the last two months discussing an age-old problem in Tennessee’s oldest town — tractor trailers traveling through the downtown area.
“This is something we bring up quite a bit — how to deal with truck traffic,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “It is a problem downtown. We need to get beyond just the talking stage. Something needs to be done.”
Dr. William Kennedy, a TAC member, brought up the issue of tractor trailers traveling through the historic district at the committee’s July meeting.
He cited two major areas of concern, one being the intersection of Main Street onto Fox Street where tractor trailers struggle to make the left turn off Main onto Fox. Even if they do make that turn, the trouble isn’t over.
“The vulnerable place is up by the Salt House,” Kennedy said, noting the next-to-impossible angle trucks must maneuver once they get over the railroad tracks to continue on Woodrow Avenue. “We don’t have anything that I find on Main Street indicating no trucks (are allowed) on Fox street.”
Kennedy said tractor trailer drivers are in a similar situation when they try to travel on Washington Drive between Main Street and Highway 11E.
At the Aug. 29 committee meeting, Browning said the time has come to create a comprehensive plan related to tractor trailers traveling through Jonesborough.
“What do we have to do in order to stop those trucks (from coming downtown)?” Browning asked. “It is frustrating sometimes to see those trucks downtown. We need a long range plan.”
The solution, he argued, begins with better signage to show drivers the appropriate routes.
“You have to have good signage,” he said. “I don’t think we have good signage. I don’t think we do a good job with that.”
A proposed project at the intersection of West Main Street and Persimmon Ridge Road to straighten the intersection there is expected to also help by improving the turning radius for large trucks.
With the right signage there, Browning believes much of the problem on the west end could be fixed.
Improvements at the intersection of Highway 11E and Boones Creek Road expected to come in 2015 may also be an opportunity on the east end to provide better direction for truck drivers, he added.
Town crews will now analyze what is currently in place to help direct tractor trailers go around the downtown area rather than through it.
From there, leaders will assess what else needs to be done to improve truck routes in Jonesborough.
Browning mentioned the potential future construction of a bypass around Jonesborough that would take trucks, and other motorists, from the area of Highway 11E at Persimmon Ridge Road to Boones Creek Road without having to travel through town.
He also questioned other possible improvement projects that could alleviate truck traffic in downtown, including the widening of Ben Gamble Road.
“Is that a potential option in order to direct trucks to State Route 81?” he wondered. “Payne Road is another one. A lot of people use that to get from 81 to 11E. We ought to look at those different options.”