Committee Recommends Location for New Transit Center

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Committee Recommends Location for New Transit Center

Posted: 11/16/2006
Mayor Bill Haslam announced Wednesday that a selection committee has recommended building the new Knoxville Station Transit Center at the east end of Church Avenue.

The site is one of three finalists that had been culled down from an original list of more than 30 potential sites for the new $27 million bus transfer station.

The other two were at the Southern Railway Station on Depot Street near Jackson Avenue and the site that Knox Area Transit currently uses for a transfer station on Main Street in front of the City County Building.

There will be a Nov. 29th public hearing on the selection at 5:30 at the Market House room of the Knoxville Chamber Partnership at 17 Market Square. Each of the three potential sites - discussed at a public meeting last month - has advantages and drawbacks.

But the transit consultants and the design committee determined that the Church Avenue location, which is near the Civic Coliseum and Auditorium, had the best mix of location, construction and operating costs in addition to meeting other criteria for a new station.

"The Church Avenue location is close to the heart of downtown in addition to having some significant advantages over the other two potential sites," Haslam said. "It allows for a covered bus area with buses lining up on one level, the operating expenses are reasonable and it has gotten the most positive feedback from the drivers."

"It is the best site of the three choices," he said.If the downtown station is built at that the end of the Church Avenue viaduct it will sit above the revamped James White Parkway and on the soon-to-be widened viaduct near the Hall of Fame Drive intersection. The City of Knoxville is building the new center along with the Public Building Authority.

The transit center will be developed with a mix of federal, state and local dollars with the city providing a total of $3.5 million of the money while the Federal Transit Administration will provide $22 million.The actual construction costs at the Church Avenue location are estimated at $23.7 million and operating expenses are estimated at around $654,000.

A little more than $3.1 million has already been spent in the planning and selection process.There is a business on the preferred site, American Accessories International, which is located in the building that once housed the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.The building will have to be acquired as part of a plan to build the bus transfer station at the end of Church Avenue. The city and the property owner have had preliminary discussions.

William Lyons, the city's senior director of policy development, said the Southern Depot location was the best of the locations with a rail line nearby, which might allow it to be the hub of some type of light rail transportation system in the future. "Ironically, the only way to incorporate the existing Southern Railway station into a full one-level transit facility would have meant removing the spur that would have allowed rail access." Keeping rail access required that buses to line up on two different levels, with one requiring buses to line up along Depot. Moreover the city would have to acquire access through Norfolk Southern property there. That access had not yet been obtained and there would not have been a covered loading area at that location.

The Depot Street site would also be the most expensive one by far to develop to operate. Total cost of construction at that location would be $25.3 million and operating costs are estimated at $937,000. "The Main Street location ranked third because of significant opposition from area stakeholders and it didn't meet the Knox Area Transit's requirements for the new center," Lyons said.It is the least expensive site to develop into a transit center and operate but at the public meeting last month concerns were expressed about traffic congestion, pollution and possible safety problems at that location.The next step in the process, if the Church Avenue site is ultimately chosen, is for the Mayor to recommend it to the Federal Transit Administration.If the FTA approves the recommendation the city could move forward with the process of building the new transit center.