G Street closure snarls traffic on West Elk, side streets
Published 10:09 am Friday, January 30, 2015
A major highway project years in the making is nearing completion, much to the relief of local motorists.
Completion of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s project to improve Gap Creek Road — also known as Highway 361 — is just a few months away, according to TDOT officials.
“The current completion date is the last day of May of this year,” TDOT Engineer Dexter Justis said. “We are currently on schedule to meet that date.”
This week, motorists in Elizabethton found themselves being diverted to alternate routes when a portion of West G Street was closed as crews worked on the intersection of that popular road with Gap Creek Road.
The closure resulted in higher-than-normal traffic volumes on West Elk Avenue, traffic jams and clogged side streets as motorists navigated around the road closure.
“The closure on G Street shouldn’t last past the end of this week,” Justis said.
Crews are working on the final alignment of the intersection of Gap Creek Road and West G Street, Justis said.
Grading work around the new path for Gap Creek Road is still going on at this time, Justis said. “That is our final phase of grading,” he said. The portion which crews are working on is where the existing Gap Creek Road intersects with what will be the new Gap Creek Road, Justis said.
Once the grading work is completed, crews will begin paving on the final portion of the road project.
“I anticipate in March,” Justis said of when paving work would begin. “It could be April but I anticipate March.”
All of the existing Gap Creek Road is currently open to traffic, Justis said. The only portion which is not open is the new section between West G Street and West Elk Avenue.
“It’s not ready to be opened, mainly because we have not installed the traffic signal there on West Elk Avenue,” Justis said.
This week’s closure of a portion of West G Street should be the last complete closure of the project, Justis said.
Because construction is ongoing, the TDOT traffic advisory website advises motorists to be alert for lane shifts, narrow lanes, temporary traffic diversions and possible lane closures and warns drivers to be alert for changed conditions and to use extreme caution in the construction zone.
The Gap Creek Road improvement project began after heavy traffic flow on the roadway raised concerns of safety with the state. Many motorists used the road as a bypass around the heavier traffic in Elizabethton and the numerous traffic lights along the main roads.
As the amount of traffic increased, so too did the number of motor vehicle accidents on the narrow and curvy roadway according to TDOT.
Planning for the project began more than a decade ago but it took several years for construction to finally begin. Now, the end is in site.
While Justis said the project is on schedule to meet the May 31 deadline, he added there is a time extension built into the project to cover unforeseen circumstances or delays.