The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is coming to town to share news about an upcoming study. They will be looking at a range of multimodal solutions along the corridors of interstates 40 and 81. By multimodal, TDOT means that they will consider a variety of travel options beyond just automobile, including transit and other forms of freight movement.
TDOT’s study is an effort to better manage congestion in the I-40/81 corridor. They also want to improve safety, look at options for diverting freight traffic, and promote economic benefits.
Everyone is invited to participate in the public meetings to provide input on TDOT’s evaluation of the corridor. The first meeting is: February 20, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Cedar Bluff Library (9045 Cross Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37923).
Those unable to attend the February 20 meeting have other options to participate:
The TPO’s mission is to advise and assist our region to improve and expand transportation choices by involving citizens and decision-makers in our plans, forums, and outreach. Every four years, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) review and evaluate our planning process to ensure that we’re meeting the federal requirements and regulations in place to help us realize that mission.
That’s where you come in! Part of the evaluation is to hear from the public and stakeholders about how we engage with them in the transportation planning process. If you’ve been involved in one of our plans or projects over the last four years, we want to hear from you!
There are two ways to provide input.
A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in the Community Room at Knoxville Station Transit Center at 301 Church Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37902. It will be held from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
You can also provide written or email comments to:
FHWA Tennessee Division
404 BNA Drive
Building 200, Suite 508
Nashville, TN 37212
FTA Region IV
230 Peachtree St, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Do you know what the TIP is or how it impacts you? The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year work program of transportation projects found within the Knoxville Urban Area. These projects include those relating to all modes of transportation, including walking, cycling, public transit, and automobile. By programming federal transportation investments in the region, the TIP implements the goals outlined in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) Mobility Plan 2040, which charts a long-term transportation system vision for our region.
The TIP is developed in cooperation with local municipalities, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and any affected public transportation operators. All projects in the TIP must be consistent with or selected from the MTP, and must be fiscally constrained based on estimated revenues.
In October, the Knoxville TPO Executive Board approved an update to the TIP to cover fiscal years 2020 through 2023. Within this program, more than $493 million is committed to 73 projects. Fifty-one of those are existing projects being carried over from the 2017-2020 TIP, and the other 22 are new.
With each program update, considerable funds are designated to a variety of transportation projects that have a major impact on our region. Because of this, we want to highlight a handful of those projects scheduled within the next few years.
South Waterfront Greenway – East of Suttree
Photo of redevelopment along the South Waterfront that will eventually connect to this portion of riverwalk expansion
With this project, the City of Knoxville will continue construction of the South Waterfront Riverwalk. This portion of the project will connect the section of cantilevered riverwalk along Island Home Avenue to the Suttree Landing Park riverwalk east of Foggy Bottom Street along the Tennessee River.
Total project cost: $7.8 million
Programmed for design in 2020, right of way (ROW) in 2021, and construction in 2022.
This is the first greenway project proposed by Blount County and is a link in the Maryville-to-Townsend greenway trail. It ranges from Maryville City Limits at the northwest corner of Helton Road along US 321 to Perry’s Mill parking area. The project also includes a bike access link to Old Walland Highway from Melrose Station Bridge.
Total project cost: $2.9 million
Programmed for design in 2020 and seeking construction funding through TDOT’s multimodal access grant
A Rails to Trails project is underway on abandoned rails from Elza Gate Park at the Oak Ridge Turnpike to the Y-12 National Security Complex on Scarboro Road and along Belgrade Road, Warehouse Road, Fairbanks Road, and Lafayette Drive. This project connects major employment centers, neighborhoods, and schools while providing an alternative route for non-motorized travel through the city’s most developed area.
Note – link references old cost estimate, so could lead to confusion about total cost
TPO – Regional Pavement Management System
The project will use data to evaluate roadway pavement conditions to determine needs and cost estimates for resurfacing and other treatments. This system, which is based on the most current pavement data collection technology, GIS software, and other pavement management software tools, will allow local jurisdictions to prioritize maintenance and rehabilitation treatments within various budget scenarios. The project is open to all jurisdictions within the TPO planning area that want to participate.
Total project cost (estimate is contingent on how many jurisdictions participate): $625,000
Programmed for implementation in 2020
TPO – Section 5310 Funds
Photo of TPO staff Doug Burton and Dori Caron awarding a van to the Sertoma Center through the 5310 program
This project provides ongoing funding to enhance mobility for senior and persons with disabilities. The funding is awarded to programs that serve the special needs of transit-dependent populations beyond traditional public transportation services and Americans with Disabilities Act complementary paratransit services. The project is open to all jurisdictions within the TPO planning area.
This study will prioritize needed road improvements based on existing and proposed land use, taking into account crash data, traffic volume, and road widths. The study will develop proposed road cross sections and help direct community investments to prepare the county for continued growth. Operational and multi-modal opportunities will be addressed. The Northshore Drive corridor will be a particular focus of the study.
Total Project cost: $625,000
Programmed to study in 2020
TDOT – Pellissippi Parkway/Hardin Valley Interchange
Section of Hardin Valley Road near where the interchange improvements will occur
This project will modify the existing interchange to improve capacity, safety, and operations. It will also add a new northbound on-ramp in the northeast quadrant.
Total project cost: $6.8M
Programmed for NEPA, design, ROW and construction in 2020
TDOT – Alcoa Highway from Woodson Drive to Cherokee Trail Interchange
This project will widen a section of Alcoa Highway from four lanes to six. It also includes the construction of a segment of the Knox-Blount Greenway through the corridor. This is one phase of the overall improvement project for Alcoa Highway that includes widening, new access roads, roundabouts, greenways, and other enhancements along the entire length of the heavily trafficked highway.
Knoxville-Knox County Planning recently completed a parking space count for the City of Knoxville. The project started with work compiled by an undergraduate GIS class at the University of Tennessee and completed by an intern and other staff.
The data was then analyzed, looking at parking spaces throughout the city for customers, employees, residents (multi-dwelling units with parking lots, not single-family homes), and students. The parking count did not include truck loading and unloading, temporary trucks lots, car sales lots, or abandoned or overgrown lots. Those spaces were, however, counted as “quasi-parking.”
In the entire city, 4,182 acres are consumed by parking, which is 6.27 percent of the city’s land. Another 1,452 acres are consumed by quasi-parking, which is an additional 2.18 percent.
In our analysis, we looked at how much space (percent) parking took up in each land use. The ranking was:
Public and quasi-public land (parks, schools, and churches)
Right of way (roads)
Then, for each land use, we took out the amount of land consumed by parking and counted parking as its own land use (even though it isn’t traditionally) to see how it compared. In this exercise, we ranked the different land uses by area in acres and came up with the following:
This analysis shows us that roughly a quarter of our city is consumed by pavement, with 17% dedicated to roads and 8% to parking.
We put this information together and took it to Knoxville’s Park(ing) Day event, which took place on Gay Street on September 20. The event is recognized around the world by groups and individuals who claim a parking space for the day and dedicate it to human use instead of a parked car. Many people create small park spaces, drawing attention to the incredible amount of space our cities have dedicated to cars and how that space could be repurposed for people to use.
At the event, we had an activity set up where we asked participants to guess the percentage of land consumed by different uses in the city. Most people were surprised by how much land was dedicated to cars, especially when compared to other uses. We also asked people to guess how many parking spaces there were at East Town Mall, Downtown West, and Carson Point on Chapman Highway. They were again surprised by just how much parking is located at these locations.
Finally, we had information set up to get people thinking about possible redevelopment opportunities for all those parking lots. We often hear that development opportunities within the city limits are limited because almost all the land has already been developed. But with the amount of space taken up by parking (and much of it underutilized) and the increased flexibility allowed within the city’s updated zoning ordinance, which is set to go into effect January 1, 2020, there are opportunities to make use of those spaces. An example of that is the announcement of Stockyard Lofts, a mixed-use development proposed for what is currently a parking lot in the Old City.
Planning’s interest in this was sparked by the CityLab article, “Parking has Eaten American Cities,” which compares the amount of land consumed by automobile parking in five other U.S. cities and considers the implications of that use. So, has parking eaten Knoxville? Our analysis shows that eight percent of our city is taken up by parking. That may not sound like a lot, until you consider how much of that space is underused or unused. Taking that in account allows us to start thinking about how we can reuse and repurpose some of those spaces, whether it’s by creating a small park or a mixed-use development with 152 apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail space.
Sharath Rereddy recently joined the TPO for a year-long position serving with AmeriCorps. Before moving to Knoxville, Sharath grew up and lived the majority of his life in Fairfax County and neighboring Arlington, VA. He spent four years a little further south while attending Virginia Tech, where he majored in economics. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he moved back to the DC Metro area and worked in finance as an internal analyst for Accenture. While living and working in Arlington, his interest in planning and sustainability deepened, and he decided to return to school to pursue another degree. Since then he has earned a graduate certificate in sustainable planning from George Washington University, and is excited to gain experience and insight into planning practices before returning to complete a graduate degree.
In the coming year, Sharath will manage bicycle and pedestrian counts and present information to area high school drivers education classes and other interested groups. He is also helping with an annual Title VI data collection and mapping update, and has other projects on his horizon. He hopes to collaborate with Ijams Nature Center to organize a bike safety talk and group ride that ends at a special exhibit at the park.
When he’s not at work, you can find Sharath relaxing or reading at his home in North Knoxville. He also enjoys spending time outdoors while hiking, biking, and playing soccer. Sharath is looking forward to exploring nearby destinations for his favorite outdoor activities as he continues to enjoy the Knoxville and surrounding area.
Let us know what you think about the draft FY 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)! The TIP is a short-range plan which includes all of the transportation projects that will be funded, designed, and built over the next four years. The TIP implements the transportation system vision established with the long-range Mobility Plan 2040.
This study examined existing transportation conditions and future needs in the Hardin Valley area. It prioritized improvements with the goals of maintaining mobility and addressing safety for people using different types of transportation. The final report is now available on the project page.
Eighteen officers from 12 different law enforcement agencies came together Aug. 27 and 28, 2019, in Knoxville to learn about road safety and engineering fundamentals. The training was organized by the Knoxville Regional TPO in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration and Bike Walk Tennessee. Its purpose was to give law enforcement officers tools to recognize and report road safety hazards, with the goal of preventing fatal and life-changing traffic crashes.
The trainer, Craig Allred, is a longtime Federal Highway Administration employee with a law enforcement background. Craig emphasized the need for law enforcement officers to speak up when they see unsafe road conditions that may be remedied by engineers or other experts.
Also attending the training were engineers from three local governments (Knoxville, Knox County and Oak Ridge), who expressed their interest in working more closely with law enforcement on safety issues.