KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Commission has passed a resolution to encourage the Tennessee Department of Transportation to consider constructing a highway bypass around Knoxville to help reduce traffic congestion.

Commissioner Larsen Jay worked with Tennessee State Senator Becky Duncan Massey to prepare the resolution, which gained unanimous support at the commission meeting Tuesday night.

According to Jay, the Knoxville population has grown more than 50% in the last 40 years, and residents have expressed concern about growing traffic.

“There’s the constant drumbeat from our constituents that say the problem is getting worse and that this is an issue they’d like us to work on,” Jay said.

Senator Massey said that transportation affects everyone and that Knoxville has three of the top five average daily traffic counts in the state. According to new study by CoPilot, Commuters in the Knoxville metro area see their daily commutes extended by 12.9 minutes due to rush hour traffic—an extra 53.9 hours annually.

“People always think Nashville has more traffic, and they may have more cars on the road, but they have more roads,” Massey said.

She added that the traffic issue is negatively affecting the state’s economy.

“It’s starting to choke our commerce, because people are driving through instead of, I believe, stopping and spending money at our local businesses and restaurants,” Massey said.

Jay says the resolution is simply a statement of encouragement and there is no specific plan in place, but hopes it will help gain public support.

Knox County Commissioners are meeting with state legislators next week and plan to discuss the proposal.