$6.4 Million Grant to Help Alleviate Traffic Congestion on N. Broadway

Communications Director

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

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

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News item

$6.4 Million Grant to Help Alleviate Traffic Congestion on N. Broadway

Posted: 02/01/2017
Grant to Alleviate N. Broadway CongestionA new federally funded $6.4 million grant will improve traffic flow and enhance the transit experience along North Broadway between downtown and Fountain City, as well as make Knoxville’s air cleaner by reducing vehicle emissions, Mayor Madeline Rogero said today.

Mayor Rogero announced the new federal grant for the Accelerated Bus Corridor (ABC) project at today’s press conference at a Knoxville Area Transit bus shelter in Fountain City. The grant, managed by the City and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, is part of the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ).

The ABC project will complement the City’s ongoing $9 million investment in an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), which is installing “smart” interconnected traffic control signals along Broadway, Chapman Highway and Kingston Pike. The automated system will analyze where cars are backing up and make second-by-second adjustments in the timing of the signals to best optimize traffic flow. More than $2 million of that investment will be made along North Broadway.

“These upgrades represent a combined $8.4 million investment in this corridor, and we’re excited to be installing cutting-edge technology to help resolve decades of frustration with gridlock on Broadway,” Mayor Rogero said. “Everyone’s commute will improve, and less time sitting in traffic means reduced emissions of pollutants.”

The Accelerated Bus Corridor project will dovetail with the ATMS technology on Broadway by tracking Knoxville Area Transit buses, coordinating their movements with other motorists in real time, and synchronizing signals to allow the buses to stay on schedule.

The three-year ABC project focuses heavily on improving transit commute times. But it also will fund better pedestrian access to key KAT stop locations, new shelters and LED panels with precise information about when buses will arrive – and even the arrival times at destinations using connecting routes.

Jeff Branham, the City’s Chief Traffic Engineer, said the transit upgrades will help all commuters – those riding a KAT bus as well as those driving personal vehicles.

As part of the ABC project, some KAT stops will feature pull-off lanes for the buses, so they won’t block a lane of traffic while passengers get on or off a stopped bus. Those buses then will get a short green light to re-enter the driving lane. The time allocated to the short green light for the buses’ re-entry will be more than offset in time saved by freeing up driving lanes and allowing motorists as well as the buses to clear signaled intersections more quickly, Branham said.

“The City is laying the groundwork for these ABC transit improvements by first installing the ATMS infrastructure,” Branham said. “It’s a very exciting combination. This technology will analyze traffic flow and use algorithms to compensate for delays, operating in real time, or second by second, as opposed to our current hour-by-hour system. The technology will be able to ‘see’ the buses and extend a green light to push them through. In other words, you’ll be spending less time waiting behind a bus.”

The ABC project will be a three-year effort, with implementation tentatively scheduled to be completed in late 2019. The first two years will be dedicated to gathering public input, identifying and purchasing right-of-ways to be used, and designing the final plans.

The Broadway Corridor is serviced by KAT’s Route 22, which carries 23,000 passengers monthly. The bus route has 45 bus stops and runs every 15 minutes during peak hours (6 to 9 a.m. and again from 3:30 to 6 p.m.) on weekdays from Knoxville Station downtown to Garden Drive at Jacksboro Pike in Fountain City. During other weekday hours, the buses run every 30 minutes until 10:15 p.m. Route 22 buses also run every 30 minutes on Saturdays and every hour on Sundays.

“What this new ABC technology will mean for our Broadway commuters is more and better options,” said Dawn Distler, Director of Transit. “The commute will be shorter. The bus shelter experience will be more comfortable. And by knowing the exact arrival times, passengers will know whether they have time to grab a cup of coffee or do some shopping before their bus pulls up.

“We’re anticipating an increase in ridership on Route 22 by eliminating the uncertainty of bus arrivals and providing improved access to our stops.”

Metropolitan Planning Commission analysis indicates that, citywide, 80,630 people (or 40,855 households) reside within a quarter-mile of a KAT bus stop.