KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The current design of Alcoa Highway is not equipped to withstand the multimodal access and high volumes of traffic it sees daily.

Engineering students at the University of Tennessee recognized the opportunity to enhance the roadway to better serve the public. Their project generated layout concepts and capable options of improving local traffic.

UT Tickle College of Engineering capstone students Jimmy Albert of Dandridge, Nick Cheney of Memphis, Josue Garduno of Smyrna and Will Huettner of Virginia’s proposal won best overall project at the 2021 Senior Design Showcase.

“Alcoa Highway, as it exists right now, there’s a lot of traffic that runs through that area, so our design provided the opportunity to have sidewalks along the stretch of the highway and greenways that will tie into some of the existing greenway networks that the city of Alcoa has, so it was really cool to be able to provide the opportunity not only to improve the traffic flow in the area, but also provide new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Albert, the lead designer on the project.

The upgraded design focuses on a section of roadway that runs most of the length of the airport. The design includes pedestrian and cyclist infrastructures such as crosswalks, crossing signals, widened sidewalks and the redesign of driveways and access roads. These enhancements look to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The sidewalk plan has the potential to serve as the link between Knox and Blount County greenways.

Recommendations for drainage, intersection design, traffic control and erosion control measures were also included in the proposal. By using Synchro microsimulation software, the team made recommendations to improve crossing time for all modes of traffic.

“The seniors engaged with the City of Alcoa and Gresham Smith engineers with professionalism and care,” said Distinguished Lecturer Jenny Retherford. “They will all be impactful junior engineers and I look forward to seeing their impact on the profession.”

Their instructor, Jenny Retherford, says senior design provides real-world experience. She says students are answering a real need for a client while receiving guidance from practicing engineers in the community.

“The City of Alcoa has been a phenomenal client. When we worked with them, they served in both responsibilities as a client and mentors. They are wonderful in helping us create real experiences for our students,” said Retherford, a Distinguished Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering.