KINGSPORT — A $750,000 reconfiguration project that starts today on Watauga Street will close a busy intersection to through traffic for 90 days, a city traffic planner estimates.
Kingsport traffic engineer Michael Thompson said Tuesday the “confusing intersection” that has five approaches that lead to Watauga Street, Ravine Road and Gibson Mill Road will be transformed into a modern roundabout that will provide easier access.
“You could say that it will resemble Church Circle and the way traffic flows there, but this improvement will be worth the wait,” said Thompson.
“We feel it will eliminate a lot of confusion, and drivers will be able to turn from any leg onto any other leg so you won’t have the confusion you’ve had in the past,” he said. “Currently, you get up to the intersection there, and you aren’t able to make the maneuver that you want to legally. Things will be a lot smoother and flow better through there come February.”
Roundabouts have proven to be safer intersections for travel, especially in the situation at Watauga where there are five possible routes, Thompson said.
While the project is completed, Sevier Avenue to Broad Street will be the main detour route to Holston Valley Medical Center from Center Street.
Motorists wanting to travel on Watauga Street will be asked to use Sevier Avenue to Tennessee Street, but if possible, Thompson urges all motorists to avoid that area during construction days.
“The people use Watauga as a cut-through to downtown, and people that use Gibson Mill to get from Stone Drive to downtown need to plan on choosing different routes because those five routes will be shut down for the duration,” he said.
Greater access to the Holston Valley Medical Center campus will also be accomplished through the redesign, giving a clearer route to Broad Street through Sevier Avenue, Thompson noted.
Times-News Staff Writer Matthew Lane contributed to this report.