TDOT Announces West Knoxville Corridor Strategy

Comprehensive Approach to Improve Safety and Mobility
Friday, April 05, 2024 | 12:46pm

KNOXVILLE – To find solutions to congestion issues in and around Knoxville, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced its Comprehensive Strategy for the I-40/I-75 Corridor in Loudon and Knox Counties.

TDOT’s 10-Year Plan, released in December, identifies funding for the interchange at I-40 and Watt Road, Improvements to the I-40/I-75 corridor, and preliminary engineering of the Sharps Gap Interchange. This new strategy combines these projects in taking a holistic approach to the entire corridor.

“By shifting focus from individual projects to a comprehensive strategy we can better address long-term needs for this corridor and maximize the value of investments,” said Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “Thanks to Governor Lee prioritizing infrastructure, we’re transforming how TDOT approaches delivery leading to a more efficient use of resources and improved project outcomes.”

The 17-mile stretch between the I-75 split in Loudon County and the I-640 split in Knox County is one of the most congested areas in the state. Backups have become commonplace at multiple locations along this corridor, with over 205,000 vehicles using it every day.

“This stretch of interstate is a vital pathway for Tennesseans and for the entire East Tennessee economy,” says Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally. “With that, we have experienced tremendous growth, congestion, and unreliable trip times. I am excited to partner with the Department of Transportation to advance solutions that benefit multiple communities along this corridor in a comprehensive manner.”

“Our efforts to enhance mobility in this region have been ongoing for years,” said Senate Transportation Chairlady, Becky Massey. “Through collaboration and pooling of resources, everyone benefits. Together we pave the way for a more connected and prosperous future for Knoxville and the surrounding area.”

During the next 18 to 24 months, TDOT will invest in preliminary engineering to determine what corridor improvements need to be made to increase throughput and reduce travel times.

Preliminary engineering will focus on significant enhancements to the 17-mile corridor where I-40 and I-75 are joined and includes the interchanges at Watt Road and Campbell Station Road, both weigh stations, and the potential for future Choice Lanes.

The work will include data collection, an assessment of previous studies, an existing conditions analysis of both engineering and environmental features, a traffic analysis, and an operations assessment.

The work produced by this investment is our down payment to improve this corridor by finding the best way for traffic to move more efficiently; this investment does not represent the full cost of the project, which will be further developed as this engineering work proceeds. We are developing a strategy for funding by leveraging dollars and applying for discretionary grant opportunities in which we think this project is a strong candidate.

“Rather than a piecemeal approach to traffic congestion, the West Knoxville Corridor Strategy provides a comprehensive, long-term plan for one of the busiest sections of interstate in Tennessee,” said Senator Richard Briggs.

“This is truly a transformational announcement for Knox County,” said Representative Jason Zachary. “I truly appreciate Commissioner Eley and the TDOT team for listening and responding to the concerns and suggestions from Lt. Governor McNally, Senators Briggs, Massey, and myself on behalf of the people we serve in Knox County. A comprehensive infrastructure plan is now in place that will help efficiently move our county forward for years to come.”

TDOT looks forward to working with General Assembly members, local elected officials, and the surrounding communities to enhance our transportation network for generations to come.

Additional comments provided by local officials:

“I was ecstatic to learn about the project,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “The I-40/75 corridor has long been a problem because of its sometimes dangerous conditions and notorious congestion, which also spills onto major arteries throughout our county. Tackling these issues comprehensively is the best strategy, and I look forward to working with the state, the city of
Knoxville, and the town of Farragut. Additionally, I would like to thank Commissioner Eley for his vision and Governor Bill Lee for making this investment as well as our state Legislative delegation for their advocacy. This is a great example of how all of us working together improves the safety and quality of life for residents of not only Knox County, but the entire state of Tennessee, and the visitors who come here to enjoy our beautiful area.”

“The Town of Farragut is looking forward to working with TDOT on the I-40/I-75 Corridor Study,” said Farragut Mayor Ron Williams. “The funding for this project is the first step of the much-needed transportation improvements in the East Tennessee area.”

"We appreciate TDOT’s attention to infrastructure needs in Knoxville,” said Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon. “Any outcomes that reduce interstate congestion through Knoxville will benefit our residents, visitors, businesses, and the environment.”