TDOT awarded $27M for traffic improvement, air quality control
Nichole Stevens knoxnews.com
The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently received more than $27 million in federal grants to be used for congestion mitigation and air quality improvement initiatives.
The agency will award 31 grants to 11 communities in the state to reduce emissions.
Knox County will receive two grants: one for the Knox County Traffic Signal Coordination Project, the other — a sizable $1.4 million grant — will be used for the Knox County Advanced Traffic Management System.
The county will begin both projects after it hires a consultant and contractor.
The Signal Coordination Project, expected to take six months, focuses on implementing better traffic control systems in congested areas, specifically in West Knox County on Lovell, Dutchtown, Hardin Valley, Peters and Ebenezer Roads.
The ATMS, which can take up to 16 months or more to complete, also will establish a traffic operations center for Knox County, officials said.
"We try to re-time every three years, hitting a third of the signals in the county each time," said Cindy Pionke, director of planning and development in the county's engineering and public works department.
Pionke said her department will purchase and install fiber cables to enhance communication between their traffic operation center and what's happening on the roads.
"If there is a problem with left turn lanes backing up, we can add more time for those movements," Pionke said.
The city of Sevierville will have access to almost half a million dollars in funds for a Sevier County Tourist Signal and Coordination Project. Currently, the city is working in conjunction with Pigeon Forge to create a traffic responsive signal system. Once in place, signalized intersections along a 16-mile stretch through the Great Smoky Mountains corridor will use Intelligence Traffic Systems. Forty-one signals are expected to be upgraded and re-timed for the purpose of producing even traffic flow. Since Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg share much of the same traffic flow, when one city can predetermine a problem, the other can readjust their signal time to relieve congestion and coordinate other intersections to respond in the same way.
"When you come to that intersection, the system in place will know that you are there," said Bob Stahlke, public information officer for Sevierville. "This system will basically allow that corridor to be more responsive than an individual traffic light by itself."
Lenoir City was awarded slightly less than $1.5 million for a new signal system design.
City Administrator Jim Wilburn said their newly optimized signal system will be installed at 20 intersections from Interstate 75 and to U.S. Highway 321 toward Maryville.
Wilburn says the goal is to "keep the traffic moving and help the ozone levels."
TDOT will use the largest portion of funding — more than $4.4 million — for its HELP Truck program, which aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety on highways following an accident or vehicle maintenance issue.