Public meeting tonight on 'Better Blountville' road and sidewalk plan

J. H. Osborne • Jul 10, 2018 at 3:22 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday on the “Better Blountville” plan, which would use grant money to build a sidewalk from the heart of the Blountville Historic District to Blountville Elementary School. It would also add bike lanes and on-street angled parking to “The Great Stage Road.” The meeting will be on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

The issue isn’t new. The Times News published an article about the proposed changes in February 2017.

The roadway that currently bears the State Route 126 designation (called “The Great Stage Road” or “Main Street” through the district) would become one-way eastbound (toward Bristol) from State Route 394 to the intersection of Blountville Boulevard and the Blountville Bypass; and that would mean another route around the district would be designated State Route 126.

There are two possibilities for the “new” stretch of State Route 126: Franklin Drive and the Blountville Bypass. The “preferred route” by designers at this point in the process is Franklin Drive. They cite several reasons for it being the best choice, including it already leads to a direct merger with current State Route 126 west of the historic district, it already has a traffic signal at its intersection with State Route 394, and it is the least expensive to get up to standard to serve as a state route.

Planning Director Ambre Torbett said the gathering of public input will continue throughout the summer and stressed the design is still in its early conceptual stages.

Torbett initiated the grant process in 2015, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded the $1 million 80/20 grant to the county in 2016. The grant specifically is meant to address pedestrian and bike-friendly access, thus the focus on sidewalks and bike lanes. To add sidewalks to one side of “Main Street,” which has historic structures on both sides often within feet of current pavement, will take up room and right of way. That’s one reason for making the section of roadway one way.

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