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Road project set to finally begin in Knox County

2:02 AM, Feb 10, 2011   |    comments
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A new road project more than two decades in the making will finally start at the end of the week in Knoxville, but not everyone is excited about the changes.

Western Avenue, which becomes Oak Ridge Highway, is just a two lane road starting just west of I-640 and that makes for multiple headaches and lots of traffic.

Home Improvement Supply sits just off Oak Ridge Highway. Owner, Robert Weir, said they've been open for two years. He sells it all: sinks, faucets, and cabinets, but now he's worried about his business. "Well, it is going to impede on our parking lot," explained Weir. 

Starting Friday, Western Avenue from Copper Kettle Road to Oak Ridge Highway at Shaad Road will get a facelift. It will become a four lane highway with a center turn lane. Weir likes the sound of that, but in the meantime he said, "I think it may improve (the road), but the long term impact is parking."

He said the project will cut his parking lot in half, his mailbox was already moved, and his main advertising sign had to be pulled from in front of his business."It's going to be a difficult situation to deal with," explained Weir.  

Others say this is a great thing for their part of town, despite the temporary headaches."It will help with accidents," said resident Howard Johnson. Johnson is a long time Knox County resident. He said Oak Ridge Highway has needed help ever since it was built, "It has seen very few improvements in terms of being widened and there are so many places where they are left turns and collisions."

T-DOT said the conditions on the highway also known as State Route 62 will get worse before they get better.

During Phase One, several roads that intersect with Western Avenue/Oak Ridge Highway will be closed to thru traffic and detours will be utilized. These roads include:

· Ball Camp Pike (Southeast intersection with SR 62 near Schaad Road)
· Summerfield Road
· Wood-Smith Road
· Raj Road
· West Ball Camp Pike
· Hinton Road

Phase One of the project begins Friday, and the entire project is expected to take three years.

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