Excavation begins on Alcoa Highway sinkhole, lanes closed near Cherokee Trail

Courtesy: WATE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A sinkhole closed lanes of Alcoa Highway in south Knoxville Wednesday morning.

Tennessee Department of Transportation said excavation work has begun on the Alcoa Highway sinkhole. All northbound lanes are closed and two of three southbound lanes are closed near Cherokee Trail.

TDOT officials said drivers should expect long delays.

Mark Nagi with TDOT said they hope to have all lanes restored and traffic back to normal by morning rush hour Thursday. However, he said if crews excavate the sinkhole and find the situation worse than they originally thought, he said the the opening could be pushed back.

A spokesperson for the University of Tennessee Medical Center says there was a water main break around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the facility. UT Medical Center is open.

KUB says while they were repairing a water main break near UT Medical Center, a sinkhole opened up. They said crews are working to repair the water main break, but the sinkhole has continued to erode beneath the water line, complicating repairs. Repairs and restoration will continue overnight and there is no timeline for when the water line will be fixed.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital said patients, families and visitors coming from South Knoxville or Blount County on Alcoa Highway should allow extra time or plan to take an alternative route due to the sinkhole.

Lane closures/alternative routes

The roadway at Buck Karnes bridge is shut down to traffic going northbound. The Knoxville Police Department says the best alternate route is Pellissippi Parkway. Northbound traffic is being diverted to John Sevier Highway and then to Chapman Highway. Necessary traffic must exit at Cherokee Trail. Two southbound lanes are closed.

Other detours drivers may take include:

  • Maloney Road to Maryville Pike to Chapman Highway
  • Woodson Drive to Maryville Pike to Chapman Highway