By 6 a.m. Monday, March 13, contractor crews overnight will have shifted the eastbound lane of Cumberland Avenue from 22nd to 19th streets to allow construction of new raised medians to begin.
This latest development in the City’s $17 million reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue represents a milestone, by two accounts.
First, the shift to the new eastbound lane, roughly 13 feet south of the current lane, will mean commuters will be driving on the permanent roadway.
That means that, as the streetscape amenities are finished on the south side of Cumberland, between 22nd and 19th streets, pedestrians and motorists will be able to envision more clearly than ever what the new Cumberland Avenue will look like.
The decorative bricks, silva cell beds for trees and landscaping, street lights and other amenities have been in place since last year on the north side. A three-block section of the south side streetscape currently is being finished, and work on the two blocks on the south side between 19th and 17th streets is now underway.
Second, the raised median being built will be an important new safety feature – creating an “island” that will help pedestrians crossing the street, while also limiting left turns by motorists to designated intersections.
Mid-block left turns have been prevented so far by temporary barriers. The new medians will be between 3 feet and 13 feet wide, depending on turn lanes and Knoxville Area Transit bus infrastructure. Even though the number of traffic lanes on Cumberland has been reduced, the design is expected to reduce fender benders and improve traffic flow by eliminating blockages created by vehicles turning left across incoming traffic in the middle of the block.
“The project remains within budget and on schedule for substantial completion in August 2017,” said Anne Wallace, the City’s Deputy Director of Redevelopment.
“Our aim has always been to create a more attractive, safer, logistically-improved and pedestrian-friendly Cumberland Avenue Corridor. The City’s investments are helping the district to continue to thrive as a residential, retail and entertainment district. To date, we’ve helped leverage $190 million in new private investments.”
In other developments related to the Cumberland Avenue Corridor:
n Vaughn & Melton, the City’s consulting engineers for the reconstruction project, reminds businesses to proactively coordinate deliveries of goods with their transport companies. Similar to how businesses downtown and on Market Square operate, Cumberland businesses are encouraged to request deliveries using smaller trucks, because full-size trucks will have difficulty making turns onto Cumberland between 17th and 22nd streets. Vaughn & Melton has offered to help businesses tailor a plan for deliveries if use of a smaller truck isn’t an option.
n From mid-March to mid-August, the University of Tennessee will be installing new steam lines, vaults and water hydrants on a section of Volunteer Boulevard, requiring some lane closures.
n From March 27 to March 31, a lane on Cumberland Avenue near the intersection with Philip Fulmer Way / James Agee Street will be closed while AT&T crews perform utility work.
More information is available at www.CumberlandConnect.com, on the Cumberland Connect Facebook page, facebook.com/CumberlandConnect, and on the Cumberland Connect phone app. Or text VFL to 313131 to get text messages on the most current traffic updates.