JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A new traffic configuration is causing confusion for some drivers at the Interstate 26-Boones Creek Road interchange.
A new diverging diamond interchange traffic alignment opened Monday morning. The Tennessee Department of Transportation says the pattern will ease traffic flow at Exit 17.
TDOT says construction work is finishing up around the area and should be completed by April 21.
The new pattern has some drivers sending out warnings.
“Avoid it at all costs until they’re finished. Because it is confusing if you don’t pay attention to where they want you to go,” one driver told News Channel 11 on Tuesday while pumping gas at a station along the interchange.
For others the pattern is a welcome change, creating an efficient way to travel through an area under construction since 2019.
“I kind of like it. I like strange things though, so maybe that’s just me,” another driver said. “It seems more efficient though.”
TDOT released a video explaining how to travel through the new design. Officials say the diverging diamond interchange is modeled after a similar one at Exit 407 in Sevierville.
A TDOT spokesperson said the first few times passing through may feel odd for drivers, almost as if they’re driving on the wrong side of the road. However, TDOT says this pattern is safer and reduces both congestion and crashes.
If you’re trying to turn onto the interstate you’ll see signs pointing to exit ramps.
When driving straight through along State Route 354, follow the arrows on the road and expect to hit a couple of traffic lights.
John Vanhoever works at Poblano’s Mexican Grill & Bar along the interchange. He believes traffic will flow through better once drivers get used to it.
“At five o’clock this whole entire place would be filled with cars even before the traffic. So hopefully this will make it less congested around the area,” said Vanhoever.
Subway manager Teawanna Harvey advises drivers to take a surrounding road if they can, such as Christian Church Road.
“If you can go the back way and go through Church Road, it is a lot quicker and faster for you,” she said.