City to Begin Gay Street 100 Block Construction Project Jan. 2009

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City to Begin Gay Street 100 Block Construction Project Jan. 2009

Posted: 09/19/2008
The City of Knoxville will not begin work on the Gay Street 100 Block construction project until January of 2009.

The project was previously scheduled to start during the fall of 2008 but there have been changes and additions to the plans including the development of new loading zones between Vine and Summit Hill and the placement of additional glass blocks within some sections of the new sidewalk.

Those changes developed out of public meetings about the project and from requests by residents and merchants.

Planning for the comprehensive project has also been a long process, in part, because of the scope of the work.

The project involves a major reconstruction of the 100 and 200 Blocks of Gay Street from Jackson Avenue to Summit Hill Drive including replacing the street and both sidewalks.

The city is also going to do some major streetscape improvements including wider sidewalks, converting the current reverse angle parking to parallel parking, and other additions like trees, bike racks and street furniture.

But the project faces some unique difficulties because the existing street and sidewalks on the 100 block were raised above the original street in 1919 and rest atop a bridge-like support structure. That support structure has not undergone any major maintenance or repair work since it was built nearly a century ago. 
"There are some significant challenges that the contractors are going to have to deal with because the sidewalks are reinforced structural slabs," said Rick Emmett, the city's urban growth manager. "A lot of the utilities are outdated and difficult to access, some of the utility service lines for the buildings extend out under the existing sidewalk and relocation must be coordinated with the new sidewalk construction." 
Overall the project is expected to take about 18 months, including 12 months of extensive work in the 100 block of Gay Street that will result in the block being closed to vehicular traffic.

Emmett said it was conceivable that the work could begin before the end of 2008 - during the holiday season. That was a situation the city wants to avoid on a project that will inevitably be difficult on residents and businesses of the 100 Block. 
"Pushing back the start date gives us the chance to get everything right before we get started," Emmett said. "One of our key goals is to complete the major construction as quickly as we can and we're developing a plan to insure that happens." 
The project's current schedule includes receiving construction bids in November 2008 with construction to begin in January of 2009. The project has a projected completion date of July 2010.