New Section of Third Creek Greenway Open

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email

New Section of Third Creek Greenway Open

Posted: 12/23/2014
December 23, 2014 - A trail-rerouting project to alleviate frequent flooding on a stretch of the City's popular Third Creek Greenway has been completed - welcome news for the hundreds of daily runners, walkers and bicyclists who sometimes have had to endure soggy or muddy treks after a hard rain.

The work from August to December never closed the greenway's older route near Tobler Lane in West Knoxville while the new 650-foot-long stretch of asphalt was being laid in a new bed on slightly higher ground.

Another pleasant outcome: The project was completed entirely in-house by City of Knoxville employees, which saved taxpayers about $145,000, compared with the estimate from a private contractor.

Peter Gerlach, the City's Construction Manager, determined that the new section of greenway could be designed and built by the City for much less money than it would have cost to pay a contractor - and he was right. The final bill was $80,000 - down from the original private estimate of $225,000.

"It was a great project to work on," Gerlach said. "Because we did everything in-house, we had several crews working on various aspects of the job. Russ Richard and Rusty Matthews from the Engineering Department surveyed the site; Mark Wagner and I designed the culvert; Mark Jenks built the culvert; and Ed Warren and Dwayne Miley and his crew prepped the ground and laid the asphalt.

"We had people on a daily basis stopping to tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing, and I know that really made our employees feel great, knowing they were improving a greenway that's so well-liked by so many people."

One big problem: How to manage water runoff from a 60-inch drainage pipe running underneath the railroad tracks.

Wagner, the City's Horticulture Manager, and Gerlach designed a special type of culvert to direct water into the creek. The design, called a high-flow/low-flow culvert, propels water through a continually narrowing pathway, resulting in a self-cleaning design.

With the greenway shifting to higher ground, City crews will no longer have to clean up the mess left behind after heavy rains - another efficiency that allows Public Service Department staff to focus on other problem areas.

During peak summer months, an estimated 2,500 people a week use the Tobler Lane section of Third Creek Greenway, according to Joe Walsh, the City's Parks and Recreation Director.

"We've gotten complaints about the mud and flood debris on this section of Third Creek for years," Walsh said. "Third Creek is a very popular greenway, and we know that people who regularly bike, walk or run this trail will notice the improvements the first time there's a heavy rain - and they're no longer having to contend with the mud and silt that had regularly been washing onto the trail."