Knox County plan would pay $2.25M for roadwork leading to new elementary school

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Now that the new Northwest Knox County elementary school is moving forward, the county is aiming to improve the area’s road system to handle the traffic.

The Knox County Board of Education approved the $2.35 million school on Wednesday to be located along Coward Mill Road.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ office said in a news release Thursday an upgrade to the roadway is required and the Knox County Engineering & Public Works Department has developed a much-needed infrastructure plan, with funding, to meet the school’s needs.

“(Coward Mill Road) is currently not wide enough to safely handle the bus traffic headed east to the future school,” the release from Jacobs’ office states. “The road also does not have pedestrian walkways along it for students.”

The plan calls for the county to pay $2.25 million — about half of the needed funding — to pay for the road project. The Knox County Board of Education has agreed to cover the other half.

The Knox County Commission will talk more about the plans during the board’s Monday work session and a vote is expected during its June 22 regular meeting.

If approved, Coward Mill Road will be widened 4 feet to create two 10-foot wide lanes along a 1.6-mile stretch from Pellissippi Parkway east to Chuck Jones Drive near the Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans’ Home.

Crews also will build either sidewalks or greenways along the same stretch of road.

“I’m glad we were able to form a great partnership with the school to ensure that this project was brought to fruition in a safe and timely manner,” Jacobs said. “Despite facing budget constraints right now, this is something we knew needed to be done.

“We weren’t able to include it in this year’s proposed budget, but we were able to cover our portion of the project’s cost through some savings we incurred on a separate road project.”

Work would begin by early summer 2021 and be completed in time for the school’s opening in August 2022.

“After the traffic concerns were raised, we took a little bit of time to make sure they were addressed,” said James Snowden, Engineering & Public Works Department director. “We’re going to mash the gas hard and get this finished as fast as we can.”

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