TDOT nixes traffic signal at Elk Crossing

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A West Elk Avenue shopping center with a new name and new incoming tenants will not be getting a new traffic signal.
   In a letter to Elizabethton city government administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation denied a request for a traffic signal on State Route 67/West Elk Avenue at the full access entrance of the former Bemberg Shopping Center.
   Interstate Realty & Development of Bristol, Tenn. purchased the shopping center last year and renamed it Elk Crossing. Interstate had notified the city and TDOT that the company was willing to fund cost and installation of the traffic signal.
   Mark Best, TDOT regional traffic engineer, advised city officials that TDOT's regional traffic office staff reviewed crash history and traffic movement near the property. He wrote that a field review, a traffic volume and turning report, and crash history evaluation conducted at the intersection did not meet signal warrants required to approve a new traffic signal.
   The company has renovated portions of the shopping center's façade and structure in recent months. Interstate company representative has previously told the Star that Fred's Discount Store and Silver Dollar were two tenants expected to open the shopping center later this year.
   Best recommended re-evaluating the location for signalization after traffic patterns have adjusted to the new retail developments.
   Elizabethton City Council will have an opportunity at tonight's meeting to approve a contract with TDOT to grant a new traffic signal at the Broad Street/North East Street intersection. That traffic signal was requested by the city and K-VA-T Food Store officials to accommodate an expansion of the Food City store on Broad Street.
   According to a correspondence from TDOT regarding the signal, the city would be responsible for maintenance, installation, and electricity to power the traffic control device. However, K-VA-T proposed the signal would be installed at the company's expense when TDOT was originally petitioned.
   In other business, the council will consider the following items of business on its agenda:
   -Approval of the city's 2004-2005 state highway maintenance contract with TDOT. The contract totaling $56,050 reimburses the city for costs incurred for maintenance done on sections of city streets that also have state highway designations.
   -Approval of a bid for water system improvements in the town of Watauga. The city received a $500,000 Community Block Development Grant requiring a 20 percent match of city dollars to upgrade Watauga's water system infrastructure. A bid of $376,000 submitted by Tony Birchfield Construction Company was the lower of two bids received by the city.
   -Expenditure of $84,825 to purchase of five new vehicles for the Elizabethton Police Department. The five new 2004 Chevy Impalas will be outfitted with a "police package" of equipment and accessories. Purchased with funds from the city's police equipment fund, the five vehicles will replace existing police cruisers that have accumulated high mileage.