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2 lanes of Cumberland Ave. closed for 2 months | News

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2 lanes of Cumberland Ave. closed for 2 months
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Monday morning the city closed two lanes of Cumberland Avenue, between W. Volunteer Boulevard and 22nd Street, for two months to work on utility lines for a redesign project.

Drivers should expect major traffic changes, especially closures from W. Volunteer Boulevard to 21st Street. The City of Knoxville has released a detour routing map to help drivers plan their commutes.

In a meeting last week, city officials said construction may be initially painful, but the end result will ease traffic on the Cumberland Avenue corridor.

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The city's plan is to redesign Cumberland Avenue from Alcoa Highway, east to 17th Street, changing the existing four-lane street into a three-lane cross section with a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. The city will also widen and landscape sidewalks and bury utilities. The goal is to create a more attractive, pedestrian-friendly corridor for this section of highway.

The entire project is expected to cost $16.87 million. Phase one is expected to last eight weeks and should wrap up in June. The completion date for the entire project is August 2017.

The city has created a website and Facebook page for updates on the project and traffic information for drivers. There is also a blog, which provides additional information.

For drivers, businesses and commuters, c
onstruction will be an almost daily scene along Cumberland Avenue over the next year and half.

"Even last night when we were leaving work we could see them start setting up and starting to block of the road and everything," said Ben Breedlove with Sunspot restaurant.

He believes the expected 18-month project is beginning quickly

"They just had a meeting the last week or week before," said Breedlove, "And it just started today, it is very sudden."

Despite the current challenges, businesses say they're looking forward to the future progress.

"What's better for this city is better for us," said Breedlove.

Sunspot goers will have a different view while construction is visible from the front porch, but the restaurant is taking steps to increase promotion. They plan to roll out a new menu each month.

"We are trying to create a new excitement about Sunspot," said Breedlove, "People will maybe chance the traffic to come down and see what's going on."

The corridor project will add a median and trees to give the popular avenue a brand-new, updated look. It will also be pedestrian friendly.

"I heard they are making the sidewalks a lot wider, so that will be nice," said Mike Hynes.

A UT student, Hynes rides his bike to class each day.

"It's just more convenient," said Hynes, "There's usually a lot of traffic around Knoxville."

Congestion will make the convenience a bit tougher, but he believes it's worth the wait.

"It's a patience thing, everyone's just got to be patient," said Hynes.

Knoxville Police PIO Darrell Debusk says there is no plan yet for game day weekends. Closer to football season, the department along with the University, Knox County Sheriff's Office, fire department will work out a plan for traffic routes.


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