KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A project more than 10 years in the making is getting new feedback from the community. The city has been working on redesigning Washington Pike for some time now with the goal of making traffic flow better and reducing accidents. But the people who live along this road have a few concerns.
The project is broken up into two parts. For the area of Washington Pike west of Mill Road the city is proposing a three-lane roadway with a raised median. This section will have one travel lane in each direction, a dual-use left turn lane, with sidewalks and landscape buffers on both sides of the road.
For the area of Washington Pike between Mill Road and Murphy Road the city wants to expand to five-lanes with a raised median. This section will have two travel lanes in each direction, a left turn lane, with shared-use paths and landscape buffers on both sides of the road.
A community meeting Wednesday night allowed residents to share their concerns with city officials. Some residents, like Theora Jamison, were concerned about their land being taken away to make room for the new sidewalks. Almost half of her front yard could be removed in the project is initial plans are not changed.
“It makes me feel sad because we’re not going to exist eventually,” Jamison said. “And we have hopes that we can leave our property to our children and they can thrive here if they so want to or do whatever they want to with the property. But at the rate that we’re going, we’re not going to have anything to leave.”
Residents agree, some changes are needed, but some think the project should be scaled down.
“I think a lot of the traffic concerns are really caused by turning movements during the peak rush hours,” neighborhood advocate Kevin Murphy said. “I think there is some design that can be done at the key intersections to improve that without having to make this a really wide project that requires five lanes across the entire project stretch,”
This won’t be an easy solution, but city leaders say they’re willing to listen. Leaders say they are in the early design phase of the project. They will continue to gather community input to help fine tune the plans. There will be more community meetings in the future.
They’re hoping to start construction by 2024, with an expected completion date of 2026.