An editorial published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on June 21, 2016 discussed a $6.4 million grant that the City of Knoxville is applying for from the state.
The funds would be used to install a traffic signal system along Broadway, one of the busiest transit routes in Knoxville. As the City continues to grow, an efficient transportation system is becoming increasingly important to residents, which is why the Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization completed the Knoxville Regional Transit Corridor Study in 2013. Funded by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and managed by staff of the TPO, the study was conducted by a consultant team led by STV Inc. out of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Study examined major corridors in the TPO planning area to determine if any could support higher capacity transit services, selecting projects that could be implemented within the following 10 years using Federal Transit Administration funds. Twelve corridors were identified that warranted analysis, all of which were screened through a two-tier process. Seven corridors advanced to the Tier 2 analysis where a refined set of criteria were used to identify three corridors with the best potential for implementation. It was determined that those three, which included North Broadway, deserved further study for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. A BRT system is most commonly defined as very frequent service, using rubber wheel vehicles, on a dedicated travel lane, with enhanced passenger stations. If a dedicated lane is not possible, BRT vehicles can serve in regular traffic but this causes the service to lose its appeal. Other features, such as signal prioritization or queue jumper lanes, can be provided to improve those services.
It was determined that the existing mix of commercial, residential, light office, and industrial land uses along North Broadway would make it a viable corridor for implementing a sustainable transit system. This corridor could utilize in-street BRT and operate in mixed-traffic, implementing signal prioritization or queue jumper lanes at the existing signalized intersections. The curb lane could operate as a BRT and general-purpose travel lane to continue to provide access to various entrances and roadways off Broadway. It was recommended that 12 stations be built along the corridor and eight BRT vehicles be purchased to service the route. At the time of the study, the estimated cost of the high scenario was $86.9 million and the estimated cost of the low scenario was $73.4 million. While the purpose of this study was not to encourage or discourage the use of such a system, it did prove that the North Broadway Corridor was an area that could support it.