Wednesday, January 30, 2008

smart fix? knoxville's own "big dig"

After lunch today I stopped and took this picture of the massive TDOT project that's going on beside the new Hall of Fame Drive bridge. I, like many people, thought the new bridge was the solution. But apparently "Smart Fix" 40 is just getting started. It looks like that we're getting a three level "spaghetti junction" where James White Parkway and Hall of Fame Drive collide into I-40. True to form, TDOT has designed the most complex solution possible.
It is a difficult problem: how do you junction two highways into an interstate at the same spot? Maybe the question we should ask (the question I'm surprised no one is asking) is why are there two roads? Why do we need Hall of Fame and James White? Aren't they serving the same purpose?
Living in North Knoxville, I use Hall of Fame quite a lot to get downtown. I thought it was a good idea to build it. TDOT extended the existing N. 5th Ave.- south to the existing Hall of Fame Dr. and north to the existing Broadway interstate spur. Connect the dots. Integrate it into the city grid of streets. It works. Good job, TDOT.
But then, for some unfathomable reason, TDOT chose to rebuild James White, the highway that blasts down First Creek right past downtown, hangs a left, crosses the river and ends a 1/4 mile later. It goes nowhere.

My opinion is that we tear James White down, let Hall of Fame handle the traffic. The [simple] diamond interchange is already there at 40. No need for the "big dig" junction. Hall of Fame offers multiple ways to into downtown: 5th, Magnolia, Summit Hill, and Church. Reclaim the land that's been lost under the James White overpass for Old City development on Depot and Jackson. Gain back six city blocks on the eastern edge of downtown and resurrect First Creek into a real waterway and put green way park along it. That seems more useful than a half mile of relatively unused six-lane highway.

Is TDOT giving Knoxville a "Smart Fix?" I'll let the logo below do the talking.

12 comments:

Mickey said...

ck for mayor!

It'd be one thing if JW actually went anywhere. I live in SoKno and I don't even use it. Eliminating it would also solve the problem of the lifeless gulch it creates between downtown and blighted east Knox. Did anyone even notice that it's been closed off?

Mickey said...

Oh yeah, and I really like your idea of reclaiming First Creek.

em said...

i would vote for you if you ran for mayor, ck. you're smart and committed and not lazy . i'm only one of those things, half of the time.

The Pol said...

but if we did that where would we dump all of that money that we are trying to waste. we have to much and must be irresponsible.

will cote said...

CK for mayor!

btw where were you eating lunch? on the median of I-40?

benjamin said...

they're obviously looking for buried treasure. they didn't find what they were looking for at papermill, so they thought they'd try james white.

will cote said...

i always feel like such a tool when i get to that part where hall of fame is parallel to james white. SOMEBODY has to be getting some major kickbacks or something, right?

ck said...

i'd like to take this opportunity to announce my candidacy for... but seriously, "jw" is ridiculous. i'm surprised none of the mainstream media even try to bring this up. it seems like no one here holds TDOT accountable.

stan said...

whoa, whoa wait...mainstream media? do you mean the sentinel?

i think i actually read a good article in the voice criticizing the redevelopment of 40/75 and james white. i'll see if i can track it down.

i agree with will though, james white just makes me feel used and wasteful at the same time. it's a very low place for me...

stan said...

as promised, link below. read and rage:

http://www.knoxvoice.com/commentary/buildings-and-blocks/fourth-and-nowhere-30.html

Jackson Hall said...

I always assumed all the construction in Knoxville was just an attempt to get more orange into the city via traffic cones.

Plumbing Book said...

The point you make would be valid except for one thing - JWP is not a "local" road, while Hall of Fame is. That's why JWP has interchanges and not intersections (ie: ramps, etc). Hall of Fame is a local road, with stoplights/etc.

Knoxville has a bad habit of starting projects and then not finishing them, either due to legal or political motives. Sometimes people won't sell right of way, the next step after that it becomes legal, then politicians get ahold of it and it becomes a NIMBY issue. JWP will ultimately connect around, but political and other issues will need to be resolved first.

http://archive.knoxmpc.org/jwhite/draft/map1.pdf

The goal of JWP is to ultimately relieve traffic congestion due to vehicles heading out in or out on chapman highway and to the interstate from downtown Knoxville.

TDOT (as well as any other major DOT) has to allocate funds and design engineering/contracts on a timeline of 10-20 years out. That means if they made the decision today to finish JWP, by the time ROW is allocated and design work is complete construction can begin somewhere 5-10 years down the road and might take 5+ years to complete (unless its on an expedited schedule, which costs more money).

TDOT doesn't just up and build roads, as much as a lot of the people around here think they do - sometimes work that's complete doesn't make any sense unless you know the whole picture. And sometimes they may have the ROW and design complete, but some other project needed funds that year so they had to stop and not construct it yet.