KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — City leaders are looking forward to a post-construction future for the area along Alcoa Highway in South Knox County.

For years, drivers and neighbors lived with construction work on the busy stretch of road, but with the Knox County portion of that project wrapping up, the focus has turned into getting the most out of the changes.

Plans include beautification and signage but also involve drawing businesses back to an area that has been struggling to survive for several years.

Gene Burr has lived near the stretch of the Alcoa Highway for 50 years. He told WATE he is ready to see the area return to its former glory.

“We haven’t had a grocery store here in over eight years, no gas station as you can see. So those are businesses we need to attract back.”

Gene Burr, volunteer and resident

If the goals of a recent corridor study drafts are met, those ideas, and several more, could be in the future.

“They’re working on zoning that would allow them to build the vibrant, pedestrian, shoppable area that they envisioned,” said 1st District Councilman Tommy Smith.

The recent study outlines three goals: organizers hope to bring more houses, apartments, and businesses to the area, create increased safety measures for pedestrians and drivers and develop a unique and recognizable look.

Study Objectives:

  1. Allow a broader array of land uses.
  2. Protect vehicular safety improvements made by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and improve pedestrian safety.
  3. Provide a unique sense of place by creating consistency in the physical environment. 

“We want to grow that area here in Knox County,” said Jeff Welch, director of Transportation Planning for Knoxville and Knox County Planning. “It’s very closely adjacent to UT, UT Medical Center; great opportunities for additional commercial and retail office and residential development in that area.”

The goals come after nearly ten years of construction and suggestions from people who have remained dedicated to improving the stretch of land.

“This is a good example of communities leading government to what they desire and government coming along to support that with thoughtful planning,” said Smith.

When it comes to those communities leading the government, they have no plans to back down.

“This is important to us, we want the Alcoa Highway Corridor to not just survive, but thrive,” said Burr.

Review the Alcoa Highway Corridor Study Draft below: