UT students design Alcoa Highway upgrades for senior storefront


Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) — The current design of the Alcoa Highway is not equipped to withstand the multimodal access and high volumes of traffic it sees daily.

Engineering students at the University of Tennessee recognized the opportunity to improve the roadway to better serve the public. Their project generated layout concepts and options capable of improving local traffic.

Jimmy Albert from Dandridge, Nick Cheney from Memphis, Josue Garduno from Smyrna and Will Huettner’s proposal from Virginia won Best Overall Project at the 2021 Senior Design Showcase.

“Alcoa Highway, as it currently exists, there is a lot of traffic going through this area, so our design provided the ability to have sidewalks along the stretch of the highway and greenways that will tie into some of the existing greenway networks that the city of Alcoa, so it was really cool to be able to provide the opportunity to not only improve traffic flow in the area, but also provide new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Albert, the project’s lead designer.

The improved design focuses on a section of road that spans most of the length of the airport. The design includes pedestrian and cycling infrastructure such as crosswalks, crossing lights, widened sidewalks, and redesigned driveways and driveways. These improvements are intended to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

The sidewalk plan has the potential to serve as a link between the Knox and Blount County greenways.

Recommendations for drainage, intersection design, traffic control and erosion control measures were also included in the proposal. Using Synchro microsimulation software, the team made recommendations to improve crossing time for all traffic modes.

“The seniors engaged with the city engineers from Alcoa and Gresham Smith with professionalism and care,” said distinguished speaker Jenny Retherford. “They will all be impactful junior engineers and I look forward to seeing their impact on the profession.”

Their instructor, Jenny Retherford, says the senior design provides a real-world experience. She says the students meet a real customer need while receiving guidance from practicing engineers in the community.

“The City of Alcoa has been a phenomenal customer. When we worked with them, they took on both client and mentor responsibilities. They are wonderful in helping us create real experiences for our students,” said Retherford, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering.


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