State and local leaders announced funding for two upcoming projects on Alcoa Highway Monday morning.
One project is located in Knox County, and will improve the 2.5 mile section of Alcoa Highway from north of Topside Road to north of Maloney Road, according to TDOT.
The other project is located in Blount County, and will improve a half mile section of Alcoa Highway from SR 35 (Hall Road) to the proposed interchange at Tyson Boulevard.
"This is something that has been needing to happen for years," said Gov. Bill Haslam. "It's going to make a dramatic impact, not only in how safe it is for people to get to work, but also in how long it takes them."
Haslam and TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said increased funding for transportation through the IMPROVE Act will help get both projects under construction in 2018.
Haslam announces that thanks to IMPROVE Act, construction time on these projects has been cut in half pic.twitter.com/ShW3IvrRon— Marc Sallinger (@MarcSallinger) July 31, 2017
The two projects are estimated to cost nearly $75 million.
All of the improvements to Alcoa Highway are expected to cost around $300 million.
“We are also able to continue the development of the remaining Alcoa Highway projects, and hope to complete the entire corridor nearly a decade sooner than we projected,” Schroer said.
The construction project is being done in six stages, with the first project scheduled for completion in 2019.
For business owners along the highway, the end of the construction can't come soon enough.
"Our sales are about down 50 percent," said Terri Nolan of Star Powersports. "think people are afraid to come into a construction area. I think when people see the rocks, the large pile of rocks, they hesitate to come in."
TDOT has said Alcoa Highway from Maloney Road to Woodson Drive, which has been under construction since the spring of 2016, is set to be complete in November 2019.
When construction ends, the highway will have 3 lanes in each direction, with one-way collector roads for access to businesses and side roads.