Johnson City

Commissioners approve shopping center

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Johnson City commissioners voted in favor of a concept plan for a new shopping center after hearing how it would affect traffic.

Four commissioners voted in favor of the plan; Vice Mayor Clayton Stout voted against the measure. It was the second reading for the proposal.

The majority of the commissioners, as well as local residents, told us they were reassured by the traffic report. "I think it will really improve it," said Bob Laprade, who lives on Kings Rd. in Sherwood Forest. "I think it will be a much better situation for Johnson City."

The new development on State of Franklin Road will back up right into his backyard, said Laprade. He has been working with the developer to reduce the possibility of noise and light pollution from the possible shopping center.

Laprade says he's confident in the traffic report's accuracy. "I thought it was very well done," he told us. "We saw the folks out there doing it at the time and it was very well done."

The traffic report looked at the effect the new development would have on existing traffic structures and the additions needed to minimize it, Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola told us. "The city is trying to get more green time, more traffic through the State of Franklin corridor," Pindzola said.

The team of traffic analyzers suggested improvements to Sunset Dr., State of Franklin Rd., Skyline Dr., and Indian Ridge Rd. They will add left turn storage on Indian Ridge and left turning lanes on Skyline, said Pindzola.

They will also synchronize the lights with nearby intersections to help traffic flow, he said. "We will actually be able to reduce the amount of time we have to allocate to the side streets and more on the main road," Pindzola told us.

Their main focus is keeping traffic flowing on State of Franklin, he said.

Pindzola told us they will work on changes to Skyline first. They hope to have Skyline construction done before the shopping center opens in the spring of 2015, he said.

Pindzola told us they still need to work on improving the safety of the intersection for pedestrians. "We need to do a better job in ensuring the pedestrians have ample time to cross the road under any configuration," he said.

We found out that 80 percent of the project's funds will come from the federal government, while 20 percent will be from taxpayers. They expect the road construction to cost four to five million dollars.

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