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'Major Milestone' - Eastbound Lane to Open Saturday on Western End of Cumberland Avenue 

An eastbound lane will open Saturday, Aug. 1, on Cumberland Avenue between Alcoa Highway and 22nd Street – marking a “major milestone” in the City of Knoxville’s $17 million reconstruction of Cumberland.

The Phase I work – upgrading aging utilities, improving traffic flow and adding Streetscape amenities on the western section of Cumberland Avenue – remains on schedule for completion by the end of 2015.

“This represents a big step forward for all Cumberland Avenue stakeholders,” said Anne Wallace, the City’s project manager and incoming Deputy Director of the Office of Redevelopment.

“Reopening traffic in both directions, prior to the University of Tennessee starting fall classes and the beginning of UT football, is a major milestone in Phase I. The project remains on schedule.”

Over the past two months, both eastbound lanes of Cumberland Avenue have been closed in a two-block section between University Commons Way and West Volunteer Boulevard, while one of the two westbound lanes through this section of Cumberland has usually been open.

However, work on two weekends required a complete shutdown of that two-block section of Cumberland. Installation of a 42-inch stormwater line 12 feet below the road and a rebuilding of the at-grade railroad crossing were among the tough tasks that crews had to tackle.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, one lane of traffic will be open in each direction – eastbound and westbound – through the end of the year as Phase I work is completed.

Remaining Phase I work includes new sidewalks on the north side of Cumberland; new lighting; improvements to the access to Metron Center Way and a new signal pole; improvements to the Tyson Park entrance; and a resurfacing of Cumberland.

Once the resurfacing is finished and the road restriped, motorists will notice a new dedicated turn lane from westbound Cumberland onto northbound Alcoa Highway, made possible by the reconfiguration of space during the reconstruction. Wallace believes this will help alleviate much of the traffic congestion on Cumberland around Metron Center Way and University Commons Way during peak traffic periods.

The City’s initiative to redesign a nine-block stretch of Cumberland Avenue will modernize aging utility infrastructure and change 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.

Once the Phase I work is completed, the project will move into Phase II – the reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue from 22nd Street to just east of 17th Street, scheduled for completion in August 2017.

In fact, KUB crews have already started doing some of the utility work, with a lane of Cumberland closed between 19th and 22nd streets, in advance of the City’s Phase II reconstruction.

Next week, starting Monday morning, Aug. 3, a Southern Constructors contract crew will be closing 21st Street at its intersection with Cumberland to install a new sewer main. There will be two-way traffic on Cumberland, and both entrances to the Mellow Mushroom and both entrances to the Starbucks will remain open.

A new traffic plan that took effect earlier this month – converting four side streets from one-way to two-way traffic between Lake and White avenues – will give motorists more options for finding destinations on Cumberland while avoiding the Phase II work.

Businesses in the Cumberland Avenue Corridor will remain accessible. For drivers wishing to avoid the construction zone, their best option 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.

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

Posted by evreeland On 31 July, 2015 at 3:34 PM