Cumberland Avenue

Engineering a more attractive, economically successful, vibrant and safe Cumberland Avenue, the front porch to the University of Tennessee


The Project


The City of Knoxville contracted Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers and their team to provide complete design development for the redevelopment of Cumberland Avenue from Alcoa Highway (US Route 129) to 16th Street in Knoxville, TN -- incorporating a road diet and improved safety for all modes of transportation.


Vaughn & Melton served as the engineer-of-record for the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project providing professional services for all phases of the project - from environmental clearance, to preliminary design, to right-of-way acquisition, to signed and sealed roadway construction plans and finally to construction engineering and inspection services.


All services provided by Vaughn & Melton included:


  • Preliminary Engineering, Right-of-Way, Final Construction Plans

  • Utility Coordination

  • Traffic Control Phasing

  • Right-of-Way Acquisition

  • Construction Engineering Inspection Services

  • A comprehensive public outreach, stakeholder coordination, and information program


The purpose of the project was to chart the course for a more attractive, economically

successful, vibrant and safe Cumberland Avenue as it was stated in The Cumberland Avenue Corridor Plan, 2007.


Vaughn & Melton also provided an in-house marketing and public relations expert to assist with public meetings, merchant relations, and building multiple platforms for Internet information. This was the city's first locally managed Tennessee Department of Transportation project to incorporate public relations as part of the Construction Engineering Inspection (CEI) Services contract.




The Challenge


Cumberland Avenue, a gateway to Downtown and the University of Tennessee (UT), carried between 22,000 and 34,000 average daily trips (ADT) from 17th Street to Alcoa Highway/US Route 129 in 2006 when the initial study was conducted.


The pedestrian demand was and still is extremely high in this corridor due to the proximity to UT Knoxville, two regional hospitals and Fort Sanders neighborhood, one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state. Unique and innovative applications were required in order to meet the city’s requirement of maintaining public access to businesses throughout the duration of construction.


Adding to the complexity of this project was needing to help multiple stakeholders know what to expect and when to expect it.


The Outcome


More than a year after the $17 million project was completed on time and under

budget, Cumberland Avenue has transformed into a more aesthetically pleasing, economically successful, and pedestrian-and-cyclist friendly street.


Our public relations strategy was a major success and was a critical component in reducing driver frustration and managing the expectations of merchants in the area. This multi-pronged approach included distributing important information throughout construction, helping to alleviate concerns and establishing expectations for all stakeholders.


Vaughn & Melton and the City worked tirelessly to communicate project information to stakeholders and the general public, while supporting and marketing the district to benefit merchants and property owners.


These efforts were rewarded with a tremendously complex project successfully delivered on time and under budget.

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