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POSTED September 2, 2016

Starting after Labor Day, a City contractor will be excavating and removing buried pre-World War II trolley tracks from the center of Cumberland Avenue – a task that will require a 10-day around-the-clock lane shift plus overnight closures of the westbound lane of Cumberland for nine consecutive nights.


Southern Constructors Inc. will begin the trolley track removal at midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The job is scheduled to be completed by the end of Thursday, Sept. 15.


Along a three-block section of Cumberland, between 19th and 22nd streets, the westbound lane of traffic will be shifted. No left turns will be allowed through the three-block excavation zone Sept. 6-15, and this includes intersecting side streets with Cumberland.


Nightly, between midnight and 6 a.m., the westbound lane between 19th and 22nd streets will be closed entirely. Flag personnel will be dispatched as needed to maintain access to businesses that are open after midnight.


The eastbound traffic lane of Cumberland Avenue will remain open at all times during the project. Westbound commuters will shift to the new through lane during day and evening hours, but between midnight and 6 a.m., westbound commuters will be detoured off Cumberland to 19th Street, to Clinch Avenue and to 22nd Street before reconnecting with Cumberland.


“The decision to close a section of westbound Cumberland at night wasn’t made lightly,” said Anne Wallace, the City’s Deputy Director of Redevelopment. “However, safety is key – both to motorists and to the construction crew. It was necessary to eliminate conflicts between heavy machinery and vehicles for this phase.”


The excavation was scheduled to take advantage of a 10-day period with no University of Tennessee home football games.


Wallace cautioned that the night-time work will be noisy at times. But doing the work 24/7 rather than stopping the excavation work at night will cut by more than half the time needed to finish the project, in addition to increasing motorist safety.


The excavation work also will play a small role in the Battle at Cumberland Avenue Scavenger Hunt. The four-day Sept. 6-9 event pits registered teams against one another in posting creative social media photos tied to the Cumberland Avenue revitalization and, most importantly, Big Orange fervor along Cumberland Avenue leading up to the Sept. 10 Battle at Bristol between the Vols and Hokies.


The details of the scavenger hunt will remain under wraps until it kicks off on Sept. 6, but several of the contest criteria award points to teams that safely incorporate images of the City’s $17 million investment in the Cumberland Avenue reconstruction. (So imagine a photo of a team singing “Rocky Top” while holding a specialty food item, standing on a new section of decorative Cumberland brick sidewalk, with a Southern Constructors dump truck in the background. That would be worth a lot of Battle at Cumberland Avenue points!)


To get started, scavenger hunt teams must register at


The City’s reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue, begun with Knoxville Utilities Board infrastructure improvements in April 2015, is scheduled to be completed by August 2017; the work is past the halfway mark. The existing four-lane Cumberland between 22nd and 17th streets is being remade into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly corridor with a three-lane cross section, a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. An earlier phase of work on the western end of Cumberland focused on improving traffic flow between the Alcoa Highway ramps and 22nd Street; that phase finished at the end of 2015, on time and under budget.

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