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Is town big enough to be bypassed?

The North Jonesborough Historic Parkway is a proposed solution to traffic congestion in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Jonesborough officials are considering this “pass through” to ease the daily commute for drivers from Greeneville to Johnson City along with snarled traffic at the intersection where 11-E meets Boones Creek Road.
Town Administrator Bob Browning says: “We wanted to create an alternative route on the north and south sides of Jonesborough. Any reduction of traffic on our busiest intersection is an improvement.”
The North Side Parkway would begin on Ben Gamble Road, proceed through the Meadows subdivision, and come out farther down on Boones Creek Road. The alternative route would be an optimal connection for trucks which would no longer have to use Highway 81 through town and Washington Drive to connect with Highway 11-E.
Several proposed routes are being considered through the property behind and next to Ben Gamble and 11-E.
“The longer we wait, the more money it will cost and the more winding it will be,” says Town Engineer Todd Wood.
Town officials are hoping that the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will consider the new parkway when a signalization project gets underway at the Persimmon Ridge intersection. This project includes aligning Ben Gamble and New Hope roads.
Jonesborough wants the State of Tennessee to redesign their signalization efforts to further angle the highway to create the parkway’s beginning. It is felt that if the Town moves quickly, TDOT would be able to amend its original project and effectively “cost-share” the parkway’s first phase of construction.
The opinions of Town of Jonesborough officials indicate that the commercial strip running the length of Jackson Boulevard together with the 11-E / Boones Creek Road intersection have become too congested with traffic. The volume on this highway has also been affected by the opening of the new “George P. Jaynes Justice Center.”
Because of the traffic moving from Johnson City to the Justice Center, any proposed Parkway should be designed to provide better access to this facility. Currently, difficult turns on a largely unsignalized highway are required to travel to and from this Center where all the courts in Washington Court are being held.
Should the realignment and construction of a parkway take place, will Jonesborough again look to the placement of red light cameras on the highway’s intersections? A parkway implies restricted access and the public needs to know what plans are being made to accommodate traffic from Meadows subdivision and other parts of the community.
The issue of the use of the red light cameras has been a topic for debate in the State Legislature. Members of the Legislature have decided to hold a bill that would regulate the cameras in the group’s Transportation Committee until April 1. The Tennessee Municipal League along with state law enforcement groups have been asked to prepare a suggested “compromise bill” to calm the debate between factions who feel the red light cameras are unconstitutional and those who extol their use as safety devices. Other citizens groups complain that the companies who have installed the cameras appear to gain the most revenue from their use – revenue that in many instances leaves the State.
While “time” may be of the essence in the development of the North Jonesborough Historic Parkway, citizen input for this project is essential. It is incumbent upon both State and Town officials to move the project from a concept to a plan that has maps, charts and traffic counts justifying the construction of a parkway. Officials must also articulate where red lights and access to the parkway will be located and what land will be acquired for the highway’s new alignment.
The Town of Jonesborough should be candid about suggested speed limits on the new route, and whether an extension of the concept will lead to a proposed “South Jonesborough Historic Parkway.” Will the Town eventually develop a “traffic loop” like those found in metropolitan areas around cities on the interstates in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville? What kind of signage will then be developed to direct motorists to historic sites in Jonesborough?
Is the Town of Jonesborough “big enough” for parkways bypassing the community? Let the Herald & Tribune know your thoughts in a “Letter to the Editor” sent to P.O. Box 277, Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659, by fax to 753-6528 or e-mail [email protected]