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Walking Downtown: Sidewalk Repair Projects Underway 
Throughout downtown, pedestrians will notice a number of sections of broken sidewalks that are being repaired. Here's a rundown on some of those projects:

A section of Old City sidewalk is being repaired on the south side of Jackson Avenue between Central and State streets.

A section of Old City sidewalk is being repaired on the south side of Jackson Avenue between Central and State streets. City Council authorized the $134,000 project in mid-March; the repair is a small part of a much larger Jackson Avenue Streetscape project that will unfold in the coming year. The contractor for the short-term work is Southern Constructors Inc.

One interesting facet of the sidewalk repair, in front of new developments such as The Daniel and the Old City Wine Bar, is that the concrete curb is being brushed and textured to match the older, broken stone pieces that are being replaced.

Existing stone curb
Existing stone curb

New textured concrete curb
New textured concrete curb

Another key sidewalk repair project has been completed. McKinnon Construction Co. crews rebuilt the sidewalk on the north side of West Jackson Avenue, connecting a City-owned parking lot with Henley Street.

The project, part of a $135,000 contract for two small infrastructure upgrades, was relatively modest. But the benefits of the new 5,500-square-foot concrete path for pedestrians will be felt for many years to come, once major infrastructure upgrades begin in the Old City. Having the wide, smooth pedestrian path open for pedestrians will be crucial once Streetscape improvements start on West Jackson, and again when the Jackson ramps connecting to Gay Street are being replaced in a few years.

Two stretches of West Jackson Avenue – a section between World’s Fair Park and Gay Street, and another section east of Gay Street through the center of the Old City – will be streetscaped, starting this summer and wrapping up in 2017. The work will include building new curbs and sidewalks, planting trees and continuing to bury utility lines, as well as significant subterranean utility upgrades.

The eastbound and westbound Jackson ramps onto Gay Street are tentatively scheduled to be replaced beginning in 2018.

Overall, infrastructure improvements in the Old City area will total more than $10 million.

The other job performed by McKinnon Construction Co., paired in the contract with the West Jackson sidewalk repair, was a reconfiguration of the median at Henley Street and West Church Avenue to remove an abandoned turn lane. The project improved the pedestrian-friendliness of the Henley Street crossing at Church Avenue.

The West Jackson section of sidewalk had been badly damaged during the McClung warehouses fire and demolition. Much of it was broken and unsafe. Here's what the West Jackson sidewalk now looks like:

Repaired sectoon of West Jackson Avenue sidewalk

Repaired sectoon of West Jackson Avenue sidewalk

A fourth project currently under construction: Streetscape improvements on Commerce Avenue and Central Street, next to the Marble Alley Lofts development.

Check out this photo that City Communications Department intern Morgan Herrig shot earlier this week:

Crews continue the Streetscape upgrades near Marble Alley.

With 248 units, Marble Alley is the first major new-construction residential development since the resurgence of downtown began more than a decade ago. The City of Knoxville, along with Knox County, is supporting the Marble Alley development project with a 10-year PILOT, a tool sometimes used to close financing gaps as older buildings are redeveloped. The City also has committed more than $1.2 million in public infrastructure improvements that will include new sidewalks, street lights and landscaping on State Street, Central Street and Commerce Avenue.

Lastly, in case you've noticed some smoothed-down edges on dozens of sidewalk squares throughout the downtown core: A crew from American Grinding Co. used special equipment mounted on a tractor to even out the bumps, lips and irregularies on older sidewalks, creating a safer walking path for pedestrians.

This image (below) shows how the grinding technique smooths out uneven edges of older sidewalks to increase pedestrian safety:

Crews use a grinder to smooth out uneven sections of older sidewalks.

City engineers say the process is cost-effective and extends the life of sidewalks while helping to eliminate trip hazards.

Posted by evreeland On 15 June, 2016 at 10:14 AM