ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – A portion of Highway 91 in Elizabethton will continue to see slowed traffic as work continues, according to city officials and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

On Tuesday, the City of Elizabethton posted to social media saying TDOT had initially informed the city that 30-mile-per-hour signs along the highway corridor between the G Street and Mill Street intersections would be taken down. However, city officials stated Tuesday that a TDOT representative later informed them that those plans had changed and the signs would remain in place while work continued.

“Although the signs indicate that the speed limit will be 30 mph, that still is only temporary as the signs are being left up until the Highway 91 Project is completed, which according to [the TDOT representative] could be in the Spring of 2024,” the city wrote in a social media post.

TDOT informed the city that pavement markings needed to be added to the resurfaced part of the corridor before the signs could come down, and the department was still waiting for the paving portion of the project to be complete, according to the post.

“The City has done all it can do in regard to getting the speed limit signs changed,” Elizabethton Engineering Manager Matthew Balogh stated in the post. Balogh informed any Elizabethton residents with questions or concerns to reach out to TDOT.

On Thursday, TDOT provided a response to the post to News Channel 11. TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said the department did receive a request from the City to see if the signs could be removed and, at the time of receiving that request, felt it would be appropriate to do so.

However, Nagi said TDOT felt the signs could be taken down because the highway project was “on hold” at the time. According to Nagi, before crews began to take the signs down, “final plans were received and TDOT and the contractor were able to start preparing for the resumption of work.”

Nagi said TDOT believed it would be in the public’s best interest to keep the speed reduction in place since crews would again be back in the road earlier than expected, and the speed requirements would have only briefly changed.

According to Nagi, TDOT crews are set to start pavement marking on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Those markings include stop bars and turn arrows throughout the Highway 91 corridor. Nagi said keeping the speed down in that area will help ensure worker safety.

TDOT’s full response can be read below:

“TDOT Operations reviewed a request from the City of Elizabethton with the Contractor to determine if the current speed reduction through most of the project could be removed. At the time of the request, a portion of the remaining work on the project was on hold and TDOT felt it would be appropriate to remove the speed reduction until work resumed throughout the project. However, before work crews were scheduled to remove the speed reduction, final plans were received and TDOT and the contractor were able to start preparing for the resumption of work. Because work crews are now back in the roadway much sooner than anticipated, TDOT felt it would not be in the public’s best interest to remove the speed reduction, only to reinstate it shortly afterward. Currently we are on schedule to have pavement marking crews on the roadway starting Wednesday, September 20. These crews will be applying pavement markings such as stop bars and turn arrows throughout the corridor. This work requires the crews to be out in the roadway using lane closures with hand equipment to apply the pavement markings. It is necessary to maintain reduced speeds while this work proceeds to help create a safer environment for the workers. TDOT is aware of the inconvenience that speed reductions cause to the motoring public and work closely with the contractor’s schedules to minimize the amount of time a speed reduction is necessary. TDOT, and the Contractor, have every intention of removing the speed reduction as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. We ask that the public work with us to help ensure the safety of field crews as we try to finish up this project.”

Mark Nagi, TDOT spokesperson