US-441 and SR-33 are critical north-south major arterials that join together in the Halls community to become a dual route less than one (1) mile north of the Knoxville city limits. US 441 roughly parallels I-75 and connect the cities of Norris and Jacksboro to Knoxville. SR 33 follows a northeast alignment north of Halls and connects Knoxville with Maynardville and Tazewell. Within Knox County, US 441/SR 33 and I-75 are the only major arterials serving the travel desires and commutes from north to downtown Knoxville.
Within the Knoxville city limits, US 441/SR 33 is called Broadway and extends through the Fountain City community, crosses I-640, and continues to downtown Knoxville. Its Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) in Fountain City, just north of I-640 is 42,680 vehicles per day, making it one of the highest in Knoxville. Many motorists from the Knoxville communities of Halls and Fountain City, as well as motorists from cities to the north like Maynardville and Tazewell, utilize the I-640 at Broadway interchange as a casting off point to destinations like downtown Knoxville, West Knoxville, and regions to the south, east, and west Knoxville via I-40 and I-75.
SR 331 (Tazewell Pike) is another key component of the I-640 at Broadway interchange because it terminates at Old Broadway and connects to Broadway at I-640. SR 331 extends in a northeast alignment to Harbison Crossroads, Corryton, and Blaine, so it too provides a key connection to downtown Knoxville and regional destinations. Just north of I-640, SR 331 accommodates 20, 610 vehicles per day. Thus, the combined daily traffic volume in the Broadway-Tazewell Pike corridors is 63, 290 vehicles per day.
TDOT envisioned improving the I-640 at Broadway interchange in two (2) phases, and the first phase south of I-640 is complete. The second phase of improvements is critical in the AM peak hour when the majority of traffic is inbound (southbound and westbound) towards downtown Knoxville.
Today, inbound traffic on Broadway and Tazewell Pike converge on I-640 to create long queues and excessive congestion. This is evident by the existing AM peak hour at the ramp junction at Broadway, and the weave maneuver that is degraded further by northbound left turn traffic from Broadway onto the westbound I-640 on ramp.
Proposed interchange improvements, which eliminate the weave, provide longer ramps with appropriate tapers, and provide operationally efficient roadway segments and signalized intersections on the surface streets within the interchange area that will provide a safer operational environmental for motorists.
Many of the businesses on Broadway north and south of I-640 depend on good access. Some like the fuel centers near the interchange cater to I-640 traffic and pass-by trips on Broadway. Several of the shopping centers and unique retail outlets near I-640 and Broadway interchange attract regional and sub-regional trips that utilize the interchange. During the AM and PM peak hours, access to all of the businesses is reduced by congestion at the I-640 and Broadway interchange, thus deferring potential patrons from visiting their businesses.
1996 – TDOT prepared Interchange Modification Study (IMS)
2003 – Phase I interchange improvements completed
2006 – Preliminary Plans Design, Phase II improvements began
2007 – Preliminary Plan development stopped; evaluated need for revised functional planning
2008 – Updated IMS prepared based on new functional designs
2010 – Revised IMS approved by FHWA
2011 – Approved revised Environmental Document
2011 – Preliminary Plans Design for revised Phase II improvements began
Previous I-640 at North Broadway Reports
Prior to 1996, I-640 provided two (2) lanes in each direction within the study area. In 1996 the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) initiated an Advance Planning Report (APR) of I-640 from I-75/I-275 to North Broadway which was approved on January 3, 1997. The APR recommended that I-640 be widened to three (3) lanes in each direction between Broadway and I-75. In March 1997, an Interchange Modification Study (IMS) was completed for I-640 at Broadway.
I-640 at Broadway Phase 1 Improvements
Due to the cost and the possibility of including part of the Broadway interchange project in the widening of I-640, the preferred concept called for phased construction. Phase 1 of the project included improvements south of I-640. Phase 1 construction included replacing the eastbound loop ramp from I-640 to northbound Broadway with a diagonal ramp that intersected Old Broadway and then continued on to Broadway. This new ramp required signals at Old Broadway and Broadway. Additionally, a diagonal northbound Broadway to eastbound I-640 on ramp was constructed thereby leaving the southwest quadrant loop ramp to exclusively serve southbound Broadway to eastbound I-640 movements.
I-640 at Broadway Phase 2 Improvements
Specifically, a loop ramp was proposed in the north east quadrant of the interchange that would serve northbound Broadway to westbound I-640 movements. This movement is currently served as a left turn at a signalized intersection. The proposed northeast quadrant loop ramp necessitates relocating the westbound I-640 off ramp to Broadway, which in turn requires that the Greenway Road approach be closed. Furthermore, the existing ramp from southbound Broadway to westbound I-640 would be replaced by a one-way westbound connection between Broadway and Old Broadway, followed by a ramp from Old Broadway to I-640 westbound. This plan also includes signalized control of the I-640 at Old Broadway ramp intersection.
Transportation System Management (TSM)/Operational Improvements
In response for a growing need for more roadway and intersection capacity before Phase 2 improvements could be implemented, TDOT and the City of Knoxville have undertaken several Transportation System Management/Operational improvements to the arterial road system in the vicinity of I-640 at Broadway. These improvements were designed to increase traffic operations and safety to the extent practical without major capital investment. These changes are described as follows:
- A traffic signal was installed at the intersection of Old Broadway, Tazewell Pike, Greenway Drive, and Walker Boulevard. This five (5) leg intersection is unconventional and traffic signal was installed to mitigate the number of crashes occurring at this site.
- The south left turn restriction on Old Broadway at the I-640 eastbound of ramp was removed. This change increased circulation and access in the immediate area of the interchange.
- The east bound approach was re-striped to allow a triple left turn. The right most lane is a shared left and right turn. This change resulted in better lane distribution between the three (3) lanes along with optimization of traffic signal operation and increased intersection capacity at the eastbound off ramp intersection with Broadway.
- Added a northbound lane on Broadway that is dropped at the Tazewell Pike off ramp. This lane allows more storage for the northbound left turn lane on to the I-640 westbound on ramp and provides the three (3) receiving lanes required for the triple left turn. This change increased capacity at the intersection of Broadway and the I-640 westbound on/off ramp and mitigated the excessive queues at northbound Broadway.
- Added a double right turn lane on the westbound I-640 ramp at Broadway and widened the ramp to two (2) lanes. This improvement was made in conjunction with the spot improvements made to I-640 as part of the SmartFIX40 project. The primary reason for the improvements was to ensure that westbound traffic on the ramp would not queue onto the westbound I-640 mainline lanes.
- Restricted Greenway Drive to right turns in and out. Left turns at this un-signalized intersection were especially difficult due to the topography and the volume of traffic within the Tazewell Pike ramp/Broadway weave area. In addition, the median width is insufficient to store a turning vehicle.
Conformance with Transportation Plans
Knoxville and its surrounding area are in a non-attainment status relative to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) established in a Clean Air Act Amendments. The proposed I-640 improvements are listed in the Knoxville Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), the TDOT (State Transportation Improvement Plan) STIP, and the Knoxville-Knox County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Long Range Plan Transportation Plan.