Research on School Walkability Published

Over the past 50 years, active commuting to school has declined 35 percent in the U.S. TPO’s Ellen Zavisca teamed up with researchers from the University of Tennessee to explore this issue and how increased connections could impact a student’s ability to walk or bike to school. Their case study, Impacts of Small Changes in Thoroughfare Connectivity on the Potential for Student Walking, was recently published in the Journal of Urban Planning and Development.

Through her involvement with Safe Routes to School, Ellen knew that physical activity and active commuting are associated with increased academic achievement, higher attendance rates, fewer disciplinary actions, increased activity outside of school, and lower body mass index. She had started noticing that kids who live very close to their school were often not in the Parental Responsibility Zone (PRZ) because road networks didn’t provide connections needed to easily get there. The lack of commuting options had resulted in increased traffic from private transportation and busing, increased pollution, and increased costs associated with buses, drivers, and associated expenditures.

To further explore this, the researchers conducted a case study to determine what would happen if there was increased road connectivity around schools in Knox County. Ten Knox County elementary and middle schools, both suburban and rural, were selected for the study. New streets were added to the selected areas to evaluate how they would impact walking to the nearby school.

They found that adding a 600-foot street near a suburban school resulted in:

  • 700 additional residences within the PRZ,
  • 120 more students within the walking distance,
  • 120 students who got 40 more minutes of physical activity each day, and
  • 4 less daily bus trips, resulting in approximately $88,500 saved per year.

Ellen’s partners concluded that retrofitting neighborhoods was the answer, but Ellen’s takeaway was different. Through her experience as a transportation planner, she recognized the benefits that could come from working with developers and school systems on the front end. Doing this could ensure that schools are better connected to their surrounding communities by streets, sidewalks, or footpaths. Creating these connections gives families better access to school walkability and saves the school system significant transportation dollars.

Life-Altering Crash Map Available

Every 13 hours in our region, someone experiences a fatal or serious-injury traffic crash. Staff created a new interactive map that shows where these life-altering crashes occur and sorts them by severity and type.

Between January 2016 and June 2019, 2,326 life-altering crashes occurred in the Knoxville Region. Of those, 321 were fatalities and 2,005 involved a serious injury. This tool helps to better understand where, when and how these types of crashes happen, as well as the impact they have on individuals, families and communities. 

The idea for this mapping and data analysis came from previous work on pedestrian- and bicycle-related traffic crashes. Pedestrian- and bicycle-related crashes account for approximately eight percent of life-altering crashes in the region. Staff wanted to investigate additional crash types to better understand the locations and circumstances in which road users of all types are most at risk.

Several categories of crashes were analyzed for the new map, and in some instances, more than one factor is at play. The categories are: 

  • Single-motor-vehicle-only crashes, which are typically crashes in which one vehicle runs off the road and hits a pole, tree, or other object; 
  • Senior-driver crashes, which involve a driver age 65 or older;
  • DUI crashes, where the police report notes the possible presence of alcohol or drugs in at least one person involved;
  • Teen-driver crashes, which involve a driver between the ages of 13 and 19;
  • Motorcycle-related crashes; and
  • Pedestrian- or bicycle-related crashes.

This data is important to our work on traffic safety. Some crash types occur more often on certain days and times of day; for instance, teen-driver crashes happen most frequently on Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons, while senior-driver crashes occur most often on weekday afternoons. Many of these crashes also involve alcohol or other drugs, which suggests that the use and abuse of these substances is an important factor. And just 13 roadways in the region account for a large share of life-altering crashes. Addressing these issues requires a broad effort by multiple parties. The TPO helps coordinate those efforts by regularly collaborating with local governments, TDOT, and others to share information.

All of this information – including maps, infographics, reports, and access to raw data – can be found on one web page:

Mobility Plan 2045 Adopted

Mobility Plan 2045 was adopted by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization’s Executive Board this spring. The Plan guides transportation investments in the region for the next 25 years, allowing federal money to be received for transportation projects and ensuring that the best long-term decisions are made for residents, employers, and visitors. It is updated every four years to account for changes in community and regional priorities, technology, project costs, and available funding.

The plan explores current conditions and determines expectations for growth and infrastructure needs in the future. It tries to determine the best ways to continue building prosperity and maintaining a high quality of life for everyone in the region. The goals of the plan are:

  • Make the transportation system safer and more efficient;
  • Reduce air pollution and improve the health of residents;
  • Improve links among transportation modes, infrastructure, and development; and
  • Address equal access to benefits and opportunities.

Last fall, local jurisdictions submitted applications for all potential projects to be included in the plan. To determine which projects to fund and when, the TPO considered the year of expenditure cost, project scoring, funding eligibility, and local priority. Projects were selected and prioritized after consideration of both technical analysis and input from residents, stakeholders, and elected and appointed officials. The result is the funding of 134 roadway, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects, totaling $4.5 billion, over the next 25 years. The final plan is fiscally constrained, meaning that the cost of all included projects does not exceed the available funding.

In addition to the plan, the Air Quality Conformity Report was also adopted. This report demonstrates that the projects within Mobility Plan 2045 conform to the requirements of the Clean Air Act and that federal funds are not spent on projects that violate, increase the frequency or severity of, or delay timely attainments of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The final documents are available at

RFP Open for Transit Studies

Knoxville-Knox County Planning is soliciting proposals for a consultant team to conduct three transit studies for the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). The TPO is a Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is an independent agency engaged in the performance of meeting the required federal transportation planning regulations for urbanized areas greater than 50,000 population.  Knoxville-Knox County Planning provides the professional transportation planning staff for the TPO and acts as the contracting agency for grant-funded projects such as for these transit studies.

The studies are:

  1. Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) of Knoxville Area Transit (KAT);
  2. Coordination Study of Knox County CAC Transit, East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA) and KAT;
  3. Urban Area Transit Study that identifies areas that might support higher capacity transit services.

The three studies will be part of one contract with Knoxville-Knox County Planning/TPO. All three studies should be accomplished no more than 12 months after the start of the contract.  The KAT COA will be prioritized as the immediate work effort, but the other studies can be worked on in concert with or shortly after depending on the Consultant’s team, capacity, and the agreed-upon final schedule.

Proposals are due on Friday, June 4, 2021 by 4:00 p.m. EST and must be submitted electronically at: for the Proposal Submission button on this page.

TDOT Pellissippi Parkway Extension Public Meeting Scheduled

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will host a Virtual Design public meeting from April 15, 2021, to April 29, 2021, to gather public input on the proposed project in Blount County on SR-162 Ext. (Pellissippi Parkway), from SR-33 to SR-73 (US-321).

The virtual meeting will be open to the public at 8:00 am EST on April 15, 2021 and will close at 10:00 pm EST on April 29, 2021.  The website link is:

More information on the project can be found here:

Input Opportunities for Mobility Plan 2045

Mobility Plan 2045 is the region’s long-range transportation plan that will guide investments and shape the future of our region for the next 25 years. The plan is updated every four years to account for changes in community and regional priorities, technology, project costs, and available funding. It allows federal money to be used for transportation projects and ensures that we’re making the best long-term decisions for our residents, employers, and visitors.

The plan tries to determine the best ways to continue building prosperity and maintaining a high quality of life for all those in our region. To do this, we must find ways to make our transportation system safer and more efficient, improve the health of our residents and reduce air pollution, improve links among transportation, infrastructure and development, and provide equal access to benefits and opportunities. Digging into these issues allows us to prioritize transportation projects that accommodate all modes with a variety of different project types.

Last fall, local jurisdictions submitted applications for all potential transportation projects to be included in Mobility Plan 2045. Projects were selected and prioritized after consideration of both technical analysis and public input. The TPO has released a draft of Mobility Plan 2045 and an accompanying project list for a final round of community input. Comments will be accepted through April 7.

The draft plan is available at and the interactive map can be found at The map allows users to zoom in to any county within the TPO planning area and filter projects by mode to see those directly affecting them. It also allows users to submit comments on projects straight from the map.

To provide more information about the draft plan, and to give community members an opportunity to speak to staff about specific topics and projects, a series of virtual meetings has been scheduled throughout the month of March. Transportation Tuesdays will be hosted during lunch for three Tuesdays in the month, and each will focus on a different theme relating to the plan. There will also be two Virtual Town Hall events held at the end of the month. These will allow participants to move into breakout rooms organized by county to find out more about specific projects that are important to them. Finally, the regularly scheduled TPO Technical Committee and Executive Board Meetings will be open to the public.

Transportation Tuesdays:
Tuesday, March 9, 12:00 p.m.  – Mobility Plan 2045 Overview
Tuesday, March 16, 12:00 p.m. – Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit
Tuesday, March 23, 12:00 p.m. – Streets and Highways

Virtual Town Halls:
Thursday, March 25, 12:00 p.m. – County specific project overview
Thursday, March 25, 5:00 p.m. – County specific project overview

Regularly Scheduled Meetings:
Tuesday, March 9, 9:00 a.m. – TPO Technical Committee Meeting
Wednesday, March 24, 9:00 a.m. – TPO Executive Board Meeting

Registration links are available at

Community input helped TPO staff determine the final project list, and staff wants to ensure residents are aware of the final steps of adopting the plan. Once the plan is adopted by the Executive Board, many of these projects will start to move through the development process, but that does not mean that residents have missed their opportunity to make a difference. It is important that community members stay engaged throughout the life a project because their continued input can have a big impact in shaping details of how a project unfolds.

Public Notice: 2021 Transit Program of Projects (POP)

The proposed Program of Projects (POP) is a list of projects by each agency receiving Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5307 and Section 5339 funding.  For FY2021 Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), Knox County CAC Transit, and the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA) received funding.  Interested persons, agencies, and private transportation providers are encouraged to review and comment on the POP.  To be mailed or faxed a copy of the POP, or to provide comments contact Doug Burton at the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) 400 Main Street, Suite 403, Knoxville, TN 37902 or at (865) 215-3824 or at  Comments must be submitted by 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 to be read during the meeting.   

The City of Knoxville is the Designated Recipient of the FTA funds.  The times established for public review and for allowing comment on the POP follow the Knoxville Reginal TPO’s Transportation Improvement Program public involvement process.  Witten and, if possible, oral comments will be allowed on the proposed POP.  If there are no changes, the POP will be considered final.   

The POP Public Hearing will be conducted in conjunction with the TPO Executive Board meeting.  Due to social-distancing safeguards to protect from the COVID-19 threat, the TPO Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. will be held electronically.  This includes the Public Hearing on the proposed FY2021 POP. The meeting will use the Zoom video-conferencing platform.  Further information will be on the TPO website, so check frequently for updates.

If you wish to make a public comment at the POP Public Hearing, live during the Executive Board meeting, please request access by contacting Laura Edmonds at or at 865-215-2506.  As part of your request please provide your full name, email address, and indicate you wish to comment on the POP.  Request must be submitted by 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.  Once a request is received, you will be sent an email invitation that will include a Zoom link that will enable you to connect to the meeting.

If you are unable to participate during the live meeting and you want to provide a public comment on the POP, you can do so in advance.  Please send your comments to Laura Edmonds or Doug Burton at the contact information above.  Clearly indicate your comments are on the POP and include your full name and email address.  Comments received will be read into the record during the live meeting.  Comments must be submitted no later than 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.  If you only want to view the meeting and do not want to make a public comment, you can watch the meeting both live and recorded on YouTube at:

Proposed POP 

RFP – Transit Planning as a Service (SaaS)

Knoxville Knox County Planning in cooperation with Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) seeks Proposals for the provision of transit planning web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) to assist in planning and analyzing transit and other types of transportation planning efforts for the Knoxville metropolitan planning area. 

Broadway Pedestrian Road Safety Assessment Available

In September of 2020, staff from multiple agencies met virtually for a two-day review of pedestrian safety issues along the North Broadway corridor in Knoxville. The TPO’s analysis of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the region had helped to identify the 1-mile section of Broadway from Hall of Fame Drive to Fairmont Boulevard as a hotspot for traffic crashes involving people walking.

This screenshot from the TPO’s public map shows the cluster of pedestrian-related crashes along this section of Broadway.

The result of these meetings is a Pedestrian Road Safety Assessment Report that is now available for review.

The report outlines near-term, intermediate, and long-term actions that can help increase the safety of people walking along and across this section of Broadway.

Near-term recommendations include:

  • Refresh pavement markings and install crosswalks at new locations.
  • Landscape vegetation that is obscuring pedestrian visibility.
  • Review of intersection signal timing for consideration of protected left turn phasing, right turn on red prohibitions, and other improvements to reduce vehicle turning conflicts.
  • Install pedestrian signal heads at signalized intersections and include a lead pedestrian interval (LPI) at those locations with frequent turning vehicle conflicts. Pedestrian signal heads with countdown timers can reduce pedestrian crashes by 25 percent, and LPIs can reduce pedestrian crashes by 13 percent.

Intermediate recommendations include:

  • Incorporate coordinated signal phasing in the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) plan.
  • Pursue access management improvements to consolidate curb cuts and improve vehicular and pedestrian safety. Begin with temporary measures such as curb stops and flexible delineators.
  • Modify intersection geometry to reduce the speed of turning vehicles. These could include reducing turning radii to slow the speed of right turns and hardening center lines to slow left turns. Begin with temporary measures such as flexible delineators, bollards, and pavement markings.
  • Improve transit stop infrastructure for those locations with higher ridership to include benches and shelters.

Long-term recommendations include:

  • Continue access management and intersection geometric improvements by hardscaping temporary improvements and continuing sidewalks across driveway entrances.

Agencies involved in the process were the TPO, City of Knoxville, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Bike Walk Knoxville and a consultant team hired through FHWA.