Submitted by R. Neal on Fri, 11/05/2010 - 12:08

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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How much would it cost to

How much would it cost to relocate every business along that stretch of Alcoa Highway? Like to the new Downtown Alcoa development, plus maybe a much smaller piece of land for the car dealers that would otherwise be used for a bypass? Then you could build concrete barriers on both sides and in the median and raise the speed limit to 70 and people could get to the airport and points south/east a lot faster. And I bet it would be less than $64 million.

One problem is that Downtown Alcoa hasn't broken ground, and I believe there are some environmental issues that have to be cleaned up first. Not to mention problems with the current economic environment and real estate markets. But maybe $64 million could overcome that.

A Different Approach (Corrected & Expanded)

With apologies for the repeated and mispelled material in my previous post...

The most dangerous part of traveling on Alcoa Highway are the vehicles making left turns. I would like to suggest placing just two traffic lights between Pellissippi Parkway and the airport that would greatly ease this problem.

On the northbound side, I would put a traffic light at Cusick Road. This light would only be for the northbound traffic, allowing left turns onto and off of Cusick. Traffic entering Alcoa Highway to the south would enter a continuous lane and make a high-speed left hand merge into traffic in the same manner as the existing southbound entrance at Governor John Sevier Highway. Southbound traffic would not stop. This would also create gaps in the northbound traffic, making it safer for traffic to enter the highway from Starbucks all the way up to Wright Road.

On the southbound side, I would put a traffic light at Airbase Road. Again, this light would only be for southbound traffic, allowing left turns onto and off of Airbase. Traffic entering Alcoa Highway to the north would enter a continuous lane (extending the existing merge lane) and make a high-speed left hand merge into traffic. This light would create safety gaps in the southbound traffic helping crossing traffic for all the businesses on that side all the way down to Wrights Ferry Road.

The southbound light would also reduce truck traffic on this most dangerous stretch of road, as northbound FedEx (and some UPS) trucks entering from Airbase Road currently travel southbound all the way down to Hunt Road, then cross over the bridge and travel this stretch a second time to proceed northbound.

These two lights would only create one potential stop for each direction of travel, and most drivers would catch a green light. For those vehicles that did have to stop, the areas immediately behind each signal have minimal driveways and side streets to be affected by waiting traffic.

The recent sad demise of several of the major car dealerships has decreased some of the crossing traffic, and the airport has made efforts to acquire some of those properties, and they are unlikely to return to their former high-traffic uses. I think my idea, plus these closings, will achieve most of the same goals as the Alcoa Parkway, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

That's a great idea for using

That's a great idea for using traffic signals with a minimum of disruption. Not sure local official are even willing to discuss traffic signals, but if they were this would seem like a good approach. They could be "smart" signals that keep traffic flowing except as needed.

I talked with someone

I talked with someone familiar with the parameters of this problem, and supposedly models show that even a single traffic light could cause miles of congestion during peak hours. So alternatives involving red lights are not likely to get much interest.

I drove the "motor mile" stretch today trying to assess alternatives, and it seems quite obvious that between the access roads, wide median and existing setbacks that there is enough room to reconfigure the highway so there are lanes for through traffic and lanes for local traffic.

It seems like the businesses along the highway threw their weight around in 2004 and bumped those types of solutions down the list, but I think their worries are exaggerated. They might lose some impulse visits, but it seems at least as likely that potential customers drive by simply because they are scared to attempt any sort of entrance/exit. It's quite possible that a road that allows safe access will be better for business than being along a road everyone knows can be lethal.

Complete what they started

I didn't completely read your website but have a couple of comments and questions. I was born and raised in Springbrook and have lived here most of my adult life as well. I have driven Alcoa Hwy daily for most of my working years since about 1993. It seems to me that most accidents occur at Green Acres and Topside Road. Shouldn't the traffic snarls be addressed there first? The only time the Motor Mile gets backed up is between 8:20am - 9:15am and again from 5pm -5:45. That's what happens everywhere at rush hour. Also, why did they do away with the on ramp to Pellissippi Parkway from Cusick Rd? Open that back up and I believe a whole lot of trucks and such that have to pull into traffic from the warehouses off Cusick would be redirected. Lastly, whatever happened to the completion of Pellissippi Parkway? Why don't we complete that first and THEN see how traffic on the almost defunct Motor Mile is affected?

Excellent questions. We hope

Excellent questions. We hope to be asking them of the powers that be in the near future. Keep tuned in.

Complete what they started...correction

My time frame was a bit off. I meant to say it's busiest from 7:20am to 8:15am.

comprehensive EA

How about an Environmental Assessment that presents all the options rather than railroading through one approach?

Alcoa Parkway - Horrible Idea

First of all why has not one addressed/questioned the logic is creating this parkway for 5 miles and then having it rejoin the existing highway for about 1 mile only to split again? That just sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. If they have to build this thing (and they seem hell bound and determined to do so) then it should amount to creating the bypass six miles further north than it's current location. Sounds to me like they really will just create a new issue by rejoining the roads 1 mile short of the Hall Road/129 split.
Secondly, has there been any studies to show how improving widenting the Old Knoxville highway might possibly alleviate some the existing load on Alcoa Highway? Not the meantion the idea of completing the Pellissippi to see what effect that has and or builing overpasses at Cusick, Wrights Road, Singleton Station and Topside?
The Parkway just seems like a rediculous idea to me!

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About this site

The purpose of this site is to provide an online clearinghouse for information about the proposed Alcoa Parkway bypass and to promote public awareness and public participation in the process. We believe that the original proposal to improve the existing Alcoa Highway corridor needs a second look as a viable alternative for correcting safety and capacity problems, and that the public should have more input in selecting the preferred build alternative.

Contact us

Send your comments and suggestions to M. Neal, mneal@rviews.com or R. Neal, rneal@rviews.com. You can also mail your comments to Stop Alcoa Parkway, P.O. Box 490, Alcoa TN 37701. To join our mailing list for updates and new developments, please email mneal@rviews.com.