Road upgrades ahead for Powell; I-75 fix could cost $95 million

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders

The I-75 interchange at Emory Road is getting a makeover and the interstate will be six-laned from Emory to the Raccoon Valley interchange.

TDOT engineer and project manager Andrew Padgett previewed what could become a $95 million construction project on May 14 at the Powell Business & Professional Association meeting. Padgett said the new interchange will be similar to the 407 interchange off I-40 at Sevierville. Watch an animation of the 407 interchange here.

Andrew Padgett

The project is currently in pre-engineering, and Padgett hopes to separate the interchange from the widening in order to finish the interchange improvements sooner. He talked about “backage” roads behind businesses on Emory Road to move traffic more efficiently.

“Just tell me how to get into Starbucks,” Justin Bailey joked.

Padgett said the backage roads would be a partnership among TDOT and affected property owners. He expects design work to be completed in spring 2023 and the project let to contract in summer 2023. He anticipates another 24-36 months until completion, with the widening project taking at least three years. The bulk of the cost will be the widening. Padgett estimated “$3.5 million to $5 million” for the interchange.

Northbound interstate traffic would have two lanes east toward Halls with another two lanes that cross over and merge into Emory Road for westbound traffic.

A second project slated for Powell is on Clinton Highway to help westbound motorists turn left onto Emory Road toward Karns. The turn lane will be shifted and expanded with a protected left turn (like now) followed by a permissive (blinking caution light) left-turn signal. Padgett expects a fall 2019 letting at a projected cost of $600,000.

A third project is on Clinton Highway where West Beaver Creek Road will be moved north to create an intersection with a traffic signal near the bread store. Old Clinton Pike would become a cul-de-sac at Clinton Highway, with residents exiting at the traffic signal. Padgett anticipates design will be finished next spring with the project going out for bid in summer 2020.

Padgett said long-term, TDOT will develop plans to rework the interchange at Merchant Drive.

Jim Snowden, director of Engineering and Public Works for Knox County, said he’s asked for funding in the county’s 2020 capital budget for road straightening and a traffic signal at Norman Jack Lane (where Rural Metro Fire just opened a new station) and Taggart Lane. He would realign Bishop Road and tie it into this intersection.

Snowden confirmed a story previously reported by that Knox County will build a roundabout and sidewalks on West Beaver Creek Road at Brickyard. The project is partially funded and, if additional funding is approved in the upcoming capital plan, he expects to start this fall and have the work done by spring 2020.

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