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Project to fix intersection near Justice Center likely to begin in late spring, early summer

A road construction project intended to improve safety along a busy part of Highway 11E will likely begin in late spring or early summer.
In November 2011, Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe began publicly discussing the need to make changes to the traffic flow in the area around the George P. Jaynes Justice Center, which opened in 2009.
“There’s a problem already there and it continues to get worse,” Wolfe said during a 2011 meeting with county leaders. “I think it’s important we change something before someone gets killed.”
The largest problem is at the intersection of the highway with North Cherokee Street, which runs along the east side of the Justice Center.
With increased traffic in and around the Justice Center, North Cherokee Street is being used by many motorists who are leaving the facility heading to Johnson City. Those drivers are exiting the Justice Center parking lot onto North Cherokee, then attempting to make left turns onto 11E. Many times, drivers have to drive across the westbound lanes of traffic then wait in the median until they can pull into eastbound traffic to head toward Johnson City.
Several traffic crashes have occurred at the intersection, some of which resulted in serious injuries, according to authorities.
After a year of discussion and planning, town leaders, last October, received a permit from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to go ahead with its proposed road improvements.
The town’s plan involves the elimination of left turns off of North Cherokee onto 11E, instead requiring drivers to exit the Justice Center via the Second Avenue exit where a traffic light was installed to accommodate traffic from the facility.
The median will also be narrowed some to allow drivers on 11E more visibility when making turns from the median.
Since then, the project has been in a holding pattern while town crews work on other projects in Jonesborough, including a major renovation to Main Street.
“In order not to have to pay a fortune for (the North Cherokee Street project), we have to do the initial work ourselves,” Town Administrator Bob Browning explained during a March 28 meeting of the town’s Traffic Advisory Committee. “We just are trying to finish a project before we start another one.”
Crews currently are working to extend brick sidewalks from the corner of Main and Boone streets down Boone Street to Sabin Drive.
They are expected to move over to the North Cherokee project next.
“We really need to do it,” said Jeff Dupre, a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee. “It’s crazy over there.”