Knoxville gets a million dollar TDOT grant to improve intersection

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Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The intersection of two busy Knoxville arteries is about to see some changes thanks to a fat check the city just received.
A million dollar grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation is going toward improving the intersection of Merchant Drive and Clinton Highway.

It's a popular intersection with no shortage of traffic. Businesses, drivers and people walking can be found up and down the area.

“Because I ride the bus and I walk across the street sometimes it's very hard just crossing the streets,” says Charles Webb.

The intersection stays busy, not only making it difficult for drivers like Dwaine Love who says, “Especially in the evenings during rush house traffic, it really gets bogged down a lot.”

Webb says, “The lights are timed for the traffic and not for the people trying to cross the streets.”

There are four different bus stops right around the area, but nothing in place to help those getting on and off.

Director of Engineering for Knoxville, Jim Hagerman says, "The current intersection is not designed with anything but cars in mind, it's very difficult to get across it.

There are no pedestrian signals in sight and zero crosswalks available, but that will soon change with the Multimodal grant.

"It's to have an emphasis moving people some way other than cars so this helps pedestrians, it helps transit and it helps bicyclists a little bit,” says Hagerman.

The project's improvements will include shifting the left turn lanes, giving time for pedestrian signals, adding crosswalks and building more sidewalks. The plan is to encourage foot traffic, something many people are eager to see.

“I think it will be great, the improvements do need to be made there,” says Love.

TDOT will provide 95% and the city will cover a 5% match.

The design is already underway and should be done in the next few months with construction beginning by next fall. City officials say that should take about six months.

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