Beginning yesterday, westbound commuters on a two-block section of Cumberland Avenue are being shifted to the north side of the road so that a City contractor can safely remove buried pre-World War II trolley tracks from the center of Cumberland Avenue.
The removal of the heavy metal tracks is part of the City’s $17 million reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue between the Alcoa Highway ramps and 17th Street. The abandoned tracks serve no purpose, and the last remaining trolley tracks between 17th and 19th streets must be removed because they’d poke above the lower elevation of the reconstructed street.
The track removal between 17th and 19th streets will create some noise, but officials with the City and the project contractor, Southern Constructors Inc., have taken steps to try to minimize disruptions to motorists and students.
Through 8 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, westbound commuters will be shifted but not detoured off Cumberland Avenue. The eastbound traffic lane of Cumberland Avenue will not be affected by the trolley track removal.
This week (today through the Thanksgiving weekend), during daylight hours only, crews will cut and begin hammering the asphalt and concrete around the tracks.
Then, for 72 hours – beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, and ending by 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 – crews will be working around the clock to finish the trolley track removal. No left turns off Cumberland Avenue will be allowed between 17th and North 19th Street during this time.
The around-the-clock work will end on Nov. 30, the first day of the University of Tennessee study period. Only daytime work will occur during UT’s final exams.
All paving operations will be completed and left turns onto 18th and North 19th streets will be restored by the morning of Thursday, Dec. 8 – prior to UT graduation ceremonies.
The City’s reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue is more than halfway completed. The project began with Knoxville Utilities Board infrastructure improvements in April 2015, and it’s scheduled to be completed by August 2017. The existing four-lane Cumberland between 22nd and 17th streets is being remade into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly corridor with a three-lane cross section, a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. An earlier phase of work on the western end of Cumberland focused on improving traffic flow between the Alcoa Highway ramps and 22nd Street; that phase finished at the end of 2015, on time and under budget.
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.