KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As spring nears, flowers will begin blooming, lawns will turn from brown to green and the color orange will once again adorn the area’s roadways as road project season is upon us.
Two major undertakings will take place in Knox County beginning this spring. The intersections of Brickyard Road at West Beaver Creek in Powell, and the Hardin Valley, Hickory Creek, East Gallaher Ferry interchange in Hardin Valley will be turned into roundabouts.
The changes are meant to help the “T-Shaped” intersections better handle the areas’ growing populations and increased traffic.
“In a lot of locations we feel like they bring a lot of safety value”, says Knox County Senior Director of Engineering and Public Works Jim Snowden. “Even if there is a crash at that intersection, it’s a sideswipe. It’s going to be a low-speed collision. So, even the crashes that do occur will be less severe.”
Snowden adds that roundabouts are more cost-effective in the long run due to low maintenance. However, it’s the safety issue, especially at the Brickyard/West Beaver Creek intersection that makes this project right for a roundabout.
“There were seven times as many wrecks at that intersection than what a typical intersection that looks like that would have,” says Snowden.
In both the Powell and Hardin Valley projects, the county will take measures to make the intersection makeovers as non-disruptive as possible to motorists. Basically, in each case, the county has purchased land off to the side of each intersection to construct the roundabouts. Once completed, the roads will then be redirected into the finished interchanges.
“That was one of the design things that we looked at. And tried to make it so traffic would not be inconvenienced”, said Snowden.
Once underway, each project is expected to take 6 months to complete. Construction in Hardin Valley is scheduled to begin this April. Work in Powell should start later this summer with work wrapped by the end of the calendar year.
As far as other key road projects currently underway: the downtown Broadway Viaduct make-over is expected to be completed by August according to TDOT. NCDOT says the ongoing I-40 bridge project in the Smokies (MM-7, North Carolina) should wrap this May.
TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi confirmed for WATE that the ongoing I-75 interstate work in Campbell County should wrap early this summer. Finally, work on the Schaad Road expansion, according to Knox County, is slated to be completed by December of 2023.