JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local and state government leaders are looking at a major overhaul to traffic flow on Boones Creek Road.

The road, which is under Tennessee Department of Transportation control as State Route 354, is the connector between Jonesborough and Interstate 26 at Exit 17.

In the last year, several new housing developments have started construction on the road as the region anticipates population growth.

But a group of local mayors and state lawmakers said the two-lane road does not have the capability to handle that growth and requires improvements.

On April 17, a letter was sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley requesting funding in the state budget for comprehensive road widening and traffic flow improvements along a 5.5-mile stretch of Boones Creek Road.

The letter was signed by Washington County’s state legislative delegation: Senator Rusty Crowe, Representative Rebecca Alexander and Representative Tim Hicks.

It was also signed by Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy, Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest and Johnson City Mayor Todd Fowler.

Grandy said getting improvements to Boones Creek Road will prove vital to the county’s growth.

“This is a critical corridor,” Grandy said. “To get the road in a better condition and have a higher capacity is really important.”

The plan calls for the road to be widened to four lanes and a turning lane from Christian Church Road near the I-26 interchange to the red light at Boones Creek Elementary School.

From the elementary school to just outside of Jonesborough, the road would be two-lane with a turning lane.

At each intersection, new turn-offs would also make turning off of the road a safer and smoother experience.

“I worry a little bit about rear-end collisions because there’s not any turn lanes there,” Vest said. “This third lane will alleviate a lot of those risks.”

Jonesborough’s new K-8 school also factors into the plan. It is located about a mile off of Boones Creek Road.

With only a two-lane country road feeding into the school, the plan would include a new road leading from the school to Boones Creek Road, which will lead into a roundabout next to Parsons Circle.

Vest said that additional way to the school will alleviate traffic concerns with the area, along with the school traffic already on the road from Boones Creek Elementary.

“We feel like that is the most important exit point, is getting to the Boones Creek Road the quickest,” Vest said. “With this extension road, we can do that.”

A major bike trail would also be created. The path would run along the length of Boones Creek Road and connect to Johnson City and eventually to the Tweetsie Trail.

Grandy said the miles of trails could be attractive for both new and existing residents.

“It’ll be a huge attraction,” Grandy said. “It’s really rare to find a trail system that creates a loop. Ride 40, 45 or 50 miles on a trail and wind right back where you started.”

A new traffic light would be installed at the Knob Creek Road intersection under the plan. Rep. Hicks said the group wants that to get done in conjunction with improvements on Knob Creek.

“We really want to push and try to get that soon, and this be not long after that,” Hicks said. “They really need to be worked together.”

Boones Creek Road has been a target for improvements for some time, but the momentum started picking up among this local collaboration a few months ago.

The passage of the Transportation Modernization Act allowed major metropolitan areas to create choice lanes to improve traffic flow, which has freed up money for more rural projects.

Rep. Alexander said TDOT should now have the money to complete projects like this.

“Lots of times projects have been on the back burner for 10-15 years,” Alexander said. “With this funding that we’re going to get to each TDOT division, then we’ll have some money to work with on roads that we really need to do so we can help the growth in our area.”

If the funding is approved, the improved Boones Creek corridor could spur additional growth along the thoroughfare from Jonesborough to I-26.

“We see a lot of growth for commercial and residential in that whole corridor,” Hicks said. “I think really in a lot of ways it’s just now starting.”

Rep. Alexander said it may end up being a much different-looking Boones Creek.

“A lot of land out through there that we will see developed,” Alexander said. “We blink and can’t believe that was the old Boones Creek Road in a few years.”

Grandy said TDOT will ultimately make the decision on any road changes, but presenting TDOT with their plan now gives them an idea of what local leaders want.

“It’ll make a statement to the commissioner and to the governor that you have three government entities working together on a project that’s vitally important to the community, that we’ve stepped out in front, and we’ve created a design concept,” Grandy said.

Details on the total cost and timeline for the project are unclear because that is contingent on its inclusion in the state budget.