U.S. Route 129 in Tennessee

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U.S. Route 129

US 129 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by TDOT
Length52.8 mi[1] (85.0 km)
Major junctions
South end US 129 at the NC line at Deals Gap, NC
Major intersections US 411 in Maryville

US 321 in Maryville
I-140 / SR 162 in Alcoa

US 11 / US 70 in Knoxville
North end I-40 in Knoxville
CountryUnited States
CountiesBlount, Monroe, Knox
Highway system
SR 114SR 115 SR 116
SR 128US 129 SR 129

U.S. Route 129 (US 129) is a north–south United States highway that runs for 52.8 miles (85.0 km) in East Tennessee, from the North Carolina state line, near Tapoco, to Knoxville. In Tennessee, the highway is completely overlapped by unsigned (except for mileposts) State Route 115 (SR 115). In the Greater Knoxville area, US 129 serves as a six-lane controlled-access highway known as Alcoa Highway.

Route description

Blount and Monroe Counties

US 129 enters Tennessee and Blount County through Deals Gap, where it twists and turns along a mountain pass running along the Little Tennessee River. This section is known as the Tail of the Dragon (or simply "The Dragon"), popular to driving enthusiasts (of motorcycles and sports cars). It then starts running along the banks of the river, where it has an intersection with the Foothills Parkway before passing by Chilhowee Dam and going through Tallassee. US 129 then briefly enters Monroe County and has an intersection with SR 72. It then re enters Blount County and enters farmland, where it has an intersection with SR 336 in Lanier. US 129 continues northeast through farmland to Clover Hill, where it becomes concurrent with US 411/SR 33. Prior to this point, US 129 is a narrow 2-lane highway known as Calderwood Highway. The then continue north to enter the city of Maryville as a 4-lane undivided highway, where it passes through a business district, where they have an intersection with SR 335 (William Blount Drive), and suburban areas before coming to an interchange, where US 129 separates from US 411/SR 33 (Broadway Avenue) and bypasses downtown on the west side. US 129 becomes an expressway known as US 129 Bypass as it passes by Foothills Mall and has intersections with US 321/SR 73 (Lamar Alexander Boulevard), Foothills Mall Drive (SR 446), and Foch Street before crossing into the neighboring town of Alcoa. US 129 then has an intersection with Louisville Road, which provides access to the neighboring town of Louisville, before crossing some railroad tracks at-grade before coming to an interchange with SR 35 (N Hall Road). US 129 becomes known as Airport Highway and has an interchange with SR 335 (Hunt Road) and 2 interchanges for McGhee Tyson Airport. It then becomes known as Alcoa Highway, a name that it keeps all the way to its northern end. It becomes an at 4-lane divided highway and passes through a major business district before having an intersection with Airbase Road (SR 429) and coming to an interchange with Pellissippi Parkway (I-140, Exit 11 A/B). The stretch between the airport and I-140 is often considered dangerous and even deadly due to the amount of traffic and crashes on the highway. US 129 continues through suburban areas before having an intersection with SR 333 (Topside Road) before leaving Alcoa. It then crosses a bridge over the Little River to enter Knox County.

Knox County

US 129 immediately enters the city limits of Knoxville and has an interchange with SR 168 (Governor John Sevier Highway). It then passes through a business district before going through wooded areas, where it becomes a freeway and has an interchange with Cherokee Trail, where it widens to 6-lanes, and an interchange for Cherokee Farm. US 129 then crosses the Tennessee River via the J. E. Buck Karnes Bridge and runs along the western edge of The University of Tennessee campus and downtown, while having interchanges with US 11/US 70/SR 1/SR 158 (Neyland Drive) and Kingston Pike. US 129 then continues north through industrial areas before coming to an end at an interchange with I-40 (Exit 386 A).

State Route 115

State Route 115

LocationKnoxvilleNC state line
Length52.8 mi (85.0 km)

State Route 115 (SR 115) is the hidden state route that overlaps the entire route of US 129 in the state of Tennessee. The highway is 52.8 miles (85 km) long and is located entirely in East Tennessee. It begins in Blount County and ends in Knox County. It is completely unsigned, with the exception of mileposts, with the highway being solely signed as US 129.


The Alcoa Highway portion of US 129 was first constructed and completed as a two-lane roadway from Knoxville to Blount County in 1939 to provide access to the then recently opened McGhee Tyson Airport. US 129's bridge over the Tennessee River in Knoxville was completed in 1935, and was named after James Ernest Karnes (a.k.a. J. E. "Buck" Karnes), a Knoxville recipient of the Medal of Honor. By 1963, Alcoa Highway was widened into a four-lane median-divided facility between I-40 and McGhee Tyson Airport. Several upgrades improving mobility were constructed on the Knoxville-Knox County section of Alcoa Highway, including replacements of at-grade intersections with interchanges at the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) and John Sevier Highway in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s respectively.[2]

Increasing congestion on Alcoa Highway in Knoxville prompted pushes from residents to form a neighborhood group Make Alcoa a Safe Highway (MASH) in the early 1980s, seeking to address concerns of safety on the highway. In 1986, MASH issued a report with immediate request and short and long-term range plans. Several of the recommendations were established such as a ban of parking on the US 129's right-of-way, speed limit enforcement, and highway lighting. Major planning by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in the 1980s and 1990s recommended median crossing closures, new overpass structures, and the widening into a six-lane facility.[2]

The construction of the Pellissippi Parkway from Oak Ridge to Alcoa required the construction of a cloverleaf interchange at US 129, which was completed in the late 1990s. Around the same time, the City of Knoxville installed lighting along the highway from the Little River north to the UTMC following annexation of the US 129 right-of-way and selected neighboring commercial and residential land-uses. Improvements were made to the US 129 interchange at I-40 and the "Buck" Karnes bridge was replaced with a new six-lane structure by the early 2000s. By 2000, TDOT began property acquisitions for the planned expansions of Alcoa Highway between I-40 and the Little River.[2]

In 2014, TDOT announced plans for improvements to the Alcoa Highway section of US 129 from I-40 to McGhee Tyson Airport in Blount County. The massive project, consisting of seven phases, called for the conversion of Alcoa Highway from a non-access-controlled highway into a full controlled-access highway (freeway). The overall project was given an initial cost of more than $233 million. The first phase of the project to begin was the Maloney Road to Woodson Drive phase in South Knoxville, with contract bidding opening in February 2016.[3] Construction work on the Maloney to Woodson phase of the Alcoa Highway improvement project began in June of the same year.[4] This section would be mostly complete by the fall of 2021, when new revisions for an access roadway to the Montlake Drive interchange were issued, expecting to be finished in the winter 2022.[5]

Junction list

US 129 south – Robbinsville
Continuation from North Carolina through Deals Gap; south end of SR 115 overlap
Chilhowee14.323.0Foothills ParkwaySouthern terminus of Foothills Parkway
MonroePumpkin Center21.434.4
SR 72 west – Vonore
Eastern terminus of SR 72
BlountLanier25.040.2 SR 336 (Six Mile Road / Brick Mill Road) – Greenback
Clover Hill32.051.5
US 411 south (SR 33 south) – Vonore
South end of US 411/SR 33 overlap
SR 335 north (William Blount Drive)
Southern terminus of SR 335
US 411 north (Broadway Avenue/SR 33 north)
North end of US 411/SR 33 concurrency; Interchange; northbound to northbound, southbound to southbound, and southbound US 411/SR 33 to northbound US 129; access from southbound US 129 to northbound US 411/SR 33 via U-turn at Cooper Street
36.859.2Mall RoadSouthbound right-in/right-out ramps
37.259.9 US 321 (Lamar Alexander Parkway/SR 73) – Friendsville, Lenoir City, Walland, TownsendProvides access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
SR 446 west (Foothills Mall Drive)
SR 446 is unsigned; eastern terminus of SR 446
Alcoa38.261.5West Bessemer Street / Middlesettlements RoadDiverging diamond interchange
SR 35 north (Hall Road) – Alcoa
Interchange; southern terminus of SR 35; northbound to northbound, southbound to southbound, and northbound US 129 to southbound SR 35
Access from northbound SR 35 to southbound US 129 via U-turn on northbound US 129 at milepost 40.2
40.765.5 SR 335 (Hunt Road)Interchange
There is an additional ramp from East Hunt Road westbound to northbound US 129
41.266.3Airport Sign.svg McGhee Tyson Airport Passenger TerminalInterchange
SR 429 south (Airbase Road)
SR 429 is unsigned; northern terminus of SR 429

I-140 west (Pellissippi Parkway) / SR 162 east (Pellissppi Parkway) – Oak Ridge, Eagleton Village
Cloverleaf interchange; I-140 exits 11A-B
SR 333 south (Topside Road) – Louisville
Northern terminus of SR 333
SR 168 east (Governor John Sevier Highway)
Western terminus of SR 168; Hybrid interchange: northbound US 129 grade-separated from SR 168 with exit and entrance ramps; southbound US 129 uses a continuous green T-intersection with a left exit and a left entrance - these ramps cross each other at-grade, controlled by a stop sign on the entrance ramp
50.881.8Cherokee Trail – UT Medical CenterTrumpet interchange; south end of freeway
UT Cherokee Farm campus site / UTMCNorthbound, one right-in/right-out driveway, one entrance ramp; southbound, two right-in/right-out driveways
51.582.9J. E. "Buck" Karnes Bridge over the Tennessee River
51.883.4 US 11 / US 70 (Neyland Drive/SR 1/SR 158) – University of TennesseeInterchange; no access to southbound US 129
51.983.5Kingston PikeInterchange
52.885.0 I-40 – Nashville, Chattanooga, Lexington, Asheville
SR 62 (Western Avenue / 17th Street)
Northern terminus of US 129 and SR 115; Semi-directional T interchange; I-40 exit 386B; Ramp to SR 62 splits from ramp to I-40 east, providing access via Dale Avenue NW; access from SR 169 (Middlebrook Pike) / University Avenue to southbound US 129 is provided by a ramp at the intersection of Ailor Avenue and North 21st Street, which merges with the Exit 386B ramp from I-40 west
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ a b Google (2011-02-28). "US 129" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  2. ^ a b c Rennie, John (2009). "Section 6: A Short History of Alcoa Highway". Timberlake History Project. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Duda, Clay (December 10, 2015). "Alcoa Highway Revamp Set Despite More Collisions on Chapman". Knoxville Mercury. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  4. ^ Nair, Mona (June 24, 2016). "TDOT breaks ground on Alcoa Highway improvement project". WATE-TV. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  5. ^ "Timeline: State Route 115 (US 129) Alcoa Highway Maloney Road to Woodson Drive". Tennessee Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation (24 January 2003). "State Highway and Interstate List 2003".

External links

U.S. Route 129
Previous state:
North Carolina
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