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State approves changes to dangerous intersecton

Town leaders recently received a permit from the Tennessee Department of Transportation that should pave the way to safer travel in Jonesborough.
After nearly a year of discussion and planning, a solution has been approved for the intersection of North Cherokee Street and Highway 11E.
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe first expressed concern over that particular intersection in November 2011 when he appeared before county leaders asking that they work with the town to fix problems at that location “before somebody gets killed.”
Leaders have been working since then to improve the dangerous traffic problems there, many of which were created by the 2009 opening of the nearby George P. Jaynes 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.
“That intersection has always been problematic,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning. “We have said from the get-go we had to do something to make it more safe.”
After several conceptual ideas proposed by both the town and county on how to fix the problem, the two entities seemed to agree on a plan that would improve safety in a cost effective manner back in May.
The 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.
The plans were sent to TDOT for approval several months ago. However, according to a report by Browning to the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, those plans were misplaced at TDOT. The town resubmitted the plans, finally receiving approval of the changes last week.
While Browning acknowledged the town received the TDOT permit to make improvements to the intersection last week, he said he had yet to review it to see whether TDOT had made any modifications to the proposal.
Browning also said it was unclear how much the improvement project would cost or when it would begin.
“We have a fairly long list of things to do,” Browning said, citing ongoing work in downtown as well as the creation of a left turn lane to accommodate additional traffic at the Captain D’s restaurant being constructed on Highway 11E near Headtown Road. “One of the things we’re working on is trying to put some of this stuff on a calendar. We will be working on a game plan. At the present time, we’ve got a whole bunch of things that are going on.”
Improvements at the intersection will likely come as welcome news to both motorists and area police.
Several traffic crashes, one as recent as Oct. 16, have occurred at the intersection. Some of them have caused serious injuries, according to authorities.