Jan 29 2013

For years there has been discussion on how to make Alcoa Highway a safe road. There is very little control of development along Alcoa Highway from the airport north to Singleton Station Road. There are too many accesses to/from the highway and too many crossovers. It is hard to determine who has control over development, e.g. City of Alcoa, Tenn. Department of Transportation (TDOT), or some other entity.

A frontage road next to Alcoa Highway has gradually been developed to enable access to the many businesses without having to use Alcoa Highway. The current frontage road goes from Starbucks to the Krystal restaurant. When the El Sazon restaurant moved into the old BelAir Grill building, the lot was modified to extend the frontage road.

When Ruby Tuesday built a new restaurant across from Starbucks, it was a surprise that no frontage road was included. Currently Clayton Bank’s new building is going up next to Ruby Tuesday. This new facility appears to be closer to Alcoa Highway than Ruby Tuesday, leaving no room for expansion of Alcoa Highway or a frontage road. There was plenty of room at the back of the lot to build and still be visible. Ruby Tuesday and Clayton are excellent corporate citizens in Blount County. I appreciate their support of our community. Road planning is not their responsibility.

Ruby Tuesday, Courtyard by Marriott hotel, and Clayton Bank are only accessible from Alcoa Highway. If things were planned better these businesses could be accessed from Cusick Road or Payne Avenue could be extended through to Hunt Road. It would appear that the entities controlling development along Alcoa Highway are not looking to the future, nor managing development for the immediate needs along the highway.

Alcoa Highway has not been widened in over 40 years. Whether it be an option to have a frontage road along the entire length of Alcoa Highway or to widen the highway, new business should be planned around either option.

There is no definitive plan to build a bypass around Alcoa Highway. Hopefully a bypass will never come to fruition. Therefore, the City of Alcoa and TDOT should be managing development to allow for a safe Alcoa Highway now, not twenty years from now. Businesses should be required to build in a manner that allows for a continuance of the existing frontage road and/or widening of the existing Alcoa Highway.

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