A year-long study of the transportation needs for fast-growing Hardin Valley has yielded plans and projects that will benefit current and future residents as well as enhance prospects for commercial development.
The Hardin Valley Mobility Study got underway following the update to the Northwest County Sector Plan in 2016. The study area is bounded by Pellissippi Parkway on the east, the county line on the west, I-40/I-75 on the south and Melton Hill Lake to the north.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau underscores the critical need for an efficient transportation network. Of those who live in the study area, 89 percent don’t work there; of those who work in the area, 93 percent don’t live there.
Workers traveling out of the area primarily commute east to downtown Knoxville or north to Oak Ridge. Traffic to and from Oak Ridge on Pellissippi Parkway is especially challenging, and the anticipated growth of 19,500 residents by 2030 will add to the strain.
About half of all land in the study area is classified as agricultural. Most all non-residential land-use groups around the I-40/I-75 and Pellissippi Parkway interchanges.
Steep ridges limit building on undeveloped agricultural acreage that might otherwise support additional residential development. Nearly 14,000 acres fall within the Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Area. The sector plan determines allowable densities.
Analysis dictated a number of measurements related to transportation and development used to contrast the impact of more aggressive with more conservative development. These measurements guided the creation of project lists. Among the top metrics were increased road safety; preservation of rural areas and open space; increased opportunities to walk and bike; and greater connectivity to interstates and Pellissippi Parkway.
A sizeable list of potential projects grew from the analysis of the existing road system and expected land use. Implementation ranged from one to three years for “short-term” projects to six-plus years for more complex plans.
Projects were further classified as connectivity, non-motorized, safety and traffic congestion/operations. The price tags range from $40,000 for stop signs at Couch Mill and Williams Bend Roads to $18 million for widening Hardin Valley Road with a median and two lanes in each direction. Progress doesn’t come cheap.
Read the study with all its details here Hardin Valley Mobility Study
Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for KnoxTNToday.