About this Project
Townsend is a small community known to many as “the peaceful side of the Smokies.” As a town largely dependent on tourism for its economic vitality, Townsend sometimes finds that things are a little too peaceful. With this demonstration project, students and faculty from the University of Tennessee worked with a group of Townsend’s leaders and residents to imagine changes that would extend the tourism season and expand opportunities for locals while still retaining Townsend’s small-town, foothills charm.
University of Tennessee landscape architecture students conceived a vision of Townsend that includes preservation of agricultural and open space lands; clustering of new development; and a new greenway along the Little River to promote activity and access to the water. The students proposed districts that group like uses together so that Townsend residents and visitors can stop and walk to multiple destinations instead of having to drive from place to place along the corridor. The Welcome and Arts districts at either end would offer wayfinding for visitors to encourage them to stop and see what Townsend has to offer.
Improving Pedestrian Safety
Civil engineering students in their senior capstone class studied the U.S. 321 corridor from several perspectives. The transportation students were asked to develop ideas that would improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists while maintaining safe and efficient travel for drivers. One team recommended converting the five-lane highway to a two-lane facility with bicycle lanes, a median, turn lanes and attractive crosswalks for pedestrians.
Another team of transportation engineering students recommended a wide planted median with crosswalks at regular intervals. The skew in the crossing means pedestrians are angled toward oncoming traffic for better visibility between drivers and pedestrians.
Level of Service (LOS) is a measure of the capacity of street segments and intersections. The students found that even with the reduction in the number of motor vehicle lanes, the LOS for drivers on U.S. 321 in Townsend remained high. The reduced driver speeds and more frequent crossings increased the LOS for pedestrians. The LOS for bicyclists remained poor, but the greenway through Townsend gives them an alternative to the on-street bike lanes.