Merchants: 'Cumberland Avenue Is Open for Business!'

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Merchants: 'Cumberland Avenue Is Open for Business!'

Posted: 07/01/2015
Cumberland ConnectReconstruction on the western end of Cumberland Avenue is proceeding on schedule, and merchants are inviting Fourth of July revelers to come eat and shop with them.

“Cumberland Avenue is open for business, and traffic is moving very well,” said Sandra Hobbs, manager at Stefanos Pizza, 1937 Cumberland Ave. “There are no backups. It’s very easy to get to Cumberland from 17th Street.”

Debbie Billings, co-founder of Graphic Creations and treasurer of the Cumberland Avenue Merchants Association, said this upcoming Fourth of July weekend is a great time to visit the Cumberland Avenue Corridor.

“Don't forget your favorite Cumberland establishments over the Fourth,” Billings said. “It’s a great place to stop before or after the Festival on the Fourth at World’s Fair Park, or for watching the World Cup soccer finals. There are always great all-American burgers up and down the Strip. The students are gone, the westbound lane has reopened, and traffic is light – plus, the fireworks are close by.”

Billings was referring to Monday’s reopening of a westbound lane on a section of Cumberland between 22nd Street and the ramps east of Alcoa Highway. That was the two-block section where crews had installed a 42-inch stormwater line 12 feet below the road and rebuilt the at-grade railroad crossing, which required last weekend’s shutdown of all lanes of traffic in that section of Cumberland.

Next, on July 6, a new traffic plan affecting side streets on the eastern end of Cumberland will start. Four streets are being converted from one-way to two-way traffic – 18th, 19th south of Cumberland, Mountcastle and 21st Street – between Lake and White avenues. (There is already two-way traffic on 20th Street and on 19th Street north of Cumberland.) The change in traffic flow will make it easier for motorists to get to a particular business by giving drivers new options to more quickly reach their destinations.

The City of Knoxville’s $17 million initiative to redesign Cumberland Avenue from Alcoa Highway east to 17th Street is modernizing outdated utility infrastructure and changing the existing four-lane street to a three-lane cross section with a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections.

Sidewalks will be widened and landscaped, and utility lines relocated, to create a more attractive, safer, pedestrian-friendly corridor.

Construction is proceeding in two phases, with Phase I (from Alcoa Highway to 22nd Street) to be completed by the end of 2015, and Phase II (from 22nd Street to just east of 17th Street) scheduled for completion in August 2017.

Currently, the eastbound lanes of Cumberland Avenue are closed between University Commons and West Volunteer Boulevard. One westbound lane currently is open. By Aug. 1, a stormwater line installation will be completed, and one lane of traffic will then be open in each direction – eastbound and westbound – through the end of the year as Phase I work is completed.

Businesses and other destinations in the Cumberland Avenue Corridor remain accessible, and the best way to reach them is to follow the City’s recommended detour routes:

• From Kingston Pike and northbound and southbound Alcoa Highway, take Neyland Drive to Joe Johnson Drive to Volunteer Boulevard.

• Those wishing to reach Cumberland Avenue from the north or coming off Interstate 40/75 can do so via 17th Street.

• To most quickly access Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, take 17th Street to Clinch Avenue.

In addition, Cumberland Avenue Corridor visitors can ride KAT buses for free. Routes 10, 11 and 17 are all free from Gay Street to Cumberland, and bus riders can board along Cumberland Avenue fare-free.

Also, free public parking on weekends and after 6 p.m. weekdays is available in the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center lot at 19th Street and White Avenue and in the UT Federal Credit Union lot at 22nd Street and White Avenue. 

For more information about the Cumberland Avenue reconstruction, regular updates and special offers from area merchants, see www.cumberlandconnect.com.