The Knox County Legislative Delegation has added its endorsement to the grass roots efforts of the collaboration of Alcoa Highway neighborhoods and institutions determined to restore the depleted landscape along the section of Alcoa Highway now under construction.
While critical to improve the safety of the most frequently travelled non-interstate thoroughfare in the state, the letter of endorsement states that “the construction activities have drastically
altered the natural landscape and it is important that landscape improvements enhance the roadway and encourage commercial investments to serve commuters and residents.”
The Alcoa Highway Beautification Council, which includes residents of all the neighborhoods adjoining the section of highway now under construction, presented its Landscape Plan and public/private strategy for implementation to the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee, chaired by Senator Becky Massey, in early March, and was commended for development of a
Plan “that will create an inviting corridor and entry into the City of Knoxville” and set an example that “could be duplicated throughout other areas in the State of Tennessee.” The Plan
includes planting of trees, to replace trees removed by construction, and wildflower beds.
Building on the endorsements of the project by the regional Transportation Planning Organization, UT Medical Center, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Scenic Knoxville, Dogwood Arts,
UT Ag Institute, as well as churches and neighborhood organizations, the City of Knoxville recently budgeted, pending City Council approval, an amount of $60,000 to provide a local
match toward a federal block grant to implement the Landscape Plan. The cost estimate for the landscape project, prepared as part of design assistance provided by the East Tennessee
Community Design Center, is $332,000. A request will be made through the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization in the near future for federal matching funds.
The construction of the $70 million first phase of the four-phase TDOT project is now scheduled for completion in spring of 2020. The landscaping is expected to be started in 2020
and completed in 2021, pending approval of the federal block grant being requested. The landscaping will be maintained by a collaboration of institutions, churches, neighborhood
garden clubs, and the City’s Public Service Department, along with TDOT.