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A major utility upgrade has closed a portion of traffic lanes on Cumberland Avenue.

The university’s steam line, which crosses Cumberland Avenue, is being upgraded. The university’s steam plant provides heating and hot water for more than 150 buildings using about eleven miles of underground steam pipes.

Work crews are relocating water, gas, and sewer lines before the steam line work begins. During the first phase of work, one lane of Cumberland Avenue between Eleventh and Thirteenth streets will be closed Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Once that work is completed, then the bigger job—upgrading the steam line—will start. The second round of work will close two lanes of Cumberland Avenue between Eleventh and Thirteenth streets. According to the Knoxville Utilities Board, that lane closure may stretch as far west as James Agee Street, if necessary.

The project is set to be complete by mid-August.

Once the two lanes of Cumberland are closed, eastbound commuters will shift to the two westbound lanes. Westbound commuters will be detoured to Eleventh Street, then to Clinch Avenue, and then to Sixteenth Street.

Westbound motorists can avoid traffic delays by going west on Western Avenue to Middlebrook Pike and on to Sutherland Avenue.

In addition, pedestrians should anticipate that the steam line project will close sidewalks on Cumberland Avenue between Eleventh and Thirteenth streets, one side of the road at a time.

The steam line project is tied to UT eliminating coal use completely by transitioning to natural gas, which will lead to decreased emissions of pollutants, less-costly fuel oil delivery, and a better water treatment system.


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,

Eric Vreeland, City of Knoxville (865-215-3480)