We are not civil engineers, planners, traffic or highway experts, so we're not qualified to say what exactly should be done.
But, at the 2004 environmental study hearing there were several build proposals put forward. If I recall correctly, three of them were variations on the Parkway/bypass idea with varying routes that impacted more or fewer property owners, required more or less right-of-way, etc.
There was at least one proposal to redesign the existing highway that was significantly less costly. And of course there was a "no-build" option, which I don't think anyone believes is an option at this point.
Unfortunately, we have so far been unable to obtain any documents about any of the other options, but we are tracking down a lead from another TDOT official and if we find them we will post them.
Regardless, anyone who regularly travels Alcoa Highway must surely have some ideas, some more feasible than others.
The idea of traffic signals has been and remains off the table, all the way from Knoxville to the airport. We think airport traffic should be re-routed to I-40/I-140 to reduce traffic through the Knox Co. portion, particularly in the Maloney and Montlake Rd. area, and one of those intersections should have a flyover or possibly at least a traffic signal.
That doesn't help the Singleton Station intersection and points south, though.
Driving through there just today I counted 36 cuts, accesses and intersections on the east side going North between Hunt Rd. and Singleton Station. Going south from Singleton Station to Hunt Rd, there are 16 cuts on the west side, not counting the airport exit. There are also 21 median crossovers. That's just crazy, and a big part of the safety problem through there.
Most of the problems are between the Cusick and Wright Rd. intersection where several fast food and other restaurants, a bank, a motel, a couple of convenience stores, and some other small businesses are located.
In hindsight, allowing that kind of development that close to the highway wasn't too smart. But they were at least smart enough to put in some frontage roads along some of those areas and on the southbound side near the car dealerships.
So a lot of folks think extending the frontage roads and limiting access to a single entrance and exit and then eliminating most or all of the cuts and crossovers would help. And it would be a fraction of the cost of a $20 million per mile superhighway bypass.
But then you still have the problem of southbound traffic turning left across oncoming traffic onto Wright Rd., commercial truck traffic turning left onto Alcoa Highway off Airbase Rd. across the southbound lane, and people turning left across oncoming traffic in both directions at Singleton Station.
Would traffic signals at these intersections really be all that terrible? Couldn't they be timed to be really short from the intersecting roads to keep traffic moving on Alcoa Highway?
We already have them on the existing 129 bypass at Louisville Rd. Yes, it backs up there during rush hour, but I've never had to wait more than two or three minutes to get through. Then again, it only handles about 70% of the traffic as compared to the project area. The rest of it peels off on to Hall Rd. right in to, you guessed it, traffic signals.
But traffic signals would no doubt cause delays and congestion, so let's say they are still off the table.
Many people have asked if some kind of flyovers or other type of bridge/interchange could be built at these intersections Or maybe just one flyover near Wright Rd. that connects to frontage roads on both the north and southbound sides.
Or, another suggestion we received is to widen Cusick Rd. and open back up the Cusick Rd. exit at I-140/Pellissippi Parkway. Southbound traffic could then get to destinations on Wright Rd., Singleton Station on the east side, Maryville Pike, or Hunt Rd. without ever having to cross over oncoming Alcoa Highway traffic.
You would still need bridges or flyovers at Airbase Rd. and Singleton Station Rd.
Like I said, we're not engineers, etc., so maybe none of this is feasible. But that's why we have TDOT and professional engineers and planners to figure this stuff out. They, of course, see every problem as another opportunity to pave the Earth. (Just kidding.) I think, though, that we are pursuing standard "what we know" options instead of creative "what could be" solutions.
Longer term, when gas hits $10 per gallon people are going to start asking why mass transit was not part of the TDOT/TPO plan. TPO says the population density won't support it now. With gas at $10 per gallon they might be able to rethink that, but it could be too late by then.
We would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas or any other suggestions, no matter how crazy (speed bumps? elevating Alcoa Highway over the existing road for through traffic?) in comments.
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- TDOT PROJECT WEBSITE
- FHWA/TDOT Finding of No Significant Impact
- 1998 TDOT proposal EA with public comments
- 2004 TDOT proposal EA with public comments
- TDOT transcript of Nov. 9 2010 public meeting
- TDOT public comments received after Nov. 9 2010 meeting
- Raw audio recording of Nov. 9 2010 TDOT meeting
- Map of proposed route
- Knox TPO Feb. 2010 Agenda w/attachments
- Map of local area TDOT projects
- Knox TPO Long Range Transportation Plan Update
- Knox TPO Transportation Infrastructure Program FY11-14
- Knox TPO Executive Board minutes Aug. 2006
- TDOT Nov. 9 2010 public meeting notice
- Printable opposition flyer for public meeting
- Maryville Daily Times ad
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Tennessee Department of Transportation
- Knoxville Region Transportation Planning Office