The Alcoa City Commission has approved a $40,000 grant contract to help assess and decide what to do with Alcoa Highway in front of the airport as the state moves forward with a massive relocation project.

Once the Tennessee Department of Transportation completes its project, a section of road between the Cusick Road intersection and the Pellissippi Parkway intersection would be “released” to the city, according to commission notes.

No longer TDOT’s responsibility, Alcoa would have to maintain and operate the section.

State-level construction east of Alcoa Highway will create a network of on- and off-ramps in front of McGhee Tyson Airport; part of the current highway there will be removed.

The study — for which Alcoa will pay only $4,000, since the Knoxville Regional Planning Organization will take care of 90% of funding — will allow city leaders to wrap their minds around an entirely reconfigured section of road, leaders said at a meeting Tuesday.

It also will take altered traffic patterns — vehicle, pedestrian and bicycles — into consideration.

Additionally, the study will assess business impact. With about 30-40 businesses connected to the north- and southbound lanes on Alcoa Highway between Hunt Bridge and Pellissippi Parkway, many may be impacted by rerouted traffic.

Moreover, according to commission notes, leaders are thinking about how area roads will look once the dust settles.

“The aesthetics will be considered as well, possibly creating a smaller roadway to accommodate all users and provide a more appealing and inviting corridor for future economic development,” notes state. “The city envisions redevelopment of this corridor as an urban crosssection with vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic together as well as to serve as an aesthetically pleasing entryway into (Alcoa).”

During the Tuesday meeting, Commissioner Vaughn Belcher asked City Manager Mark Johnson if TDOT would improve the section of road before releasing it.

“Can you get TDOT to pave the road before we take it over?” Belcher asked.

“We’re going to try to,” Johnson replied. “I don’t know if they will or not, but that’s the game plan right there.”

Though road improvements are not centered on the planned Amazon.com warehouse — set to go in at the intersection of Pellissippi Parkway and Alcoa Highway — TDOT work near the airport also is supposed to improve commercial traffic.

The warehouse will have up to 200 trucks moving in and out each day, and officials are considering how that traffic will interact with the highway improvements.

Though the whole Alcoa Highway relocation project has a variety of moving timelines, recent departmental emails obtained by The Daily Times point to the project wrapping between 2024 and 2025.

Definitive deadlines will depend on a complex interaction between the city, the county, Knox County planning agencies, TDOT, industrial developers, greenway planners and others.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

Andrew joined The Daily Times in 2019 and covers city government and breaking news.

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