Thursday, October 29, 2009

Construction Update - October 29, 2009

Fire Street Alley construction has now been basically completed and really looks good. A little work remains on the sidewalk and entrance area. The Contractor did a fine job, I think, of managing the concerns of the folks utilizing that pathway (see below) with minimal inconvenience.

The work on the 200 Block of S. Gay Street is progressing as we had hoped. Water line installation will begin next week and the sewer line extension should be finished this week. We are on schedule to begin reconstructing the new sidewalk and roadway in a couple of weeks so this is very good news.

This view (above) of the 200 Block of S. Gay Street is looking north from Summit Hill Drive

This view is from Vine Avenue looking south. Please note that we have moved the office trailer down onto the Jackson Avenue lot for the duration of the project.

Water meter boxes are currently being installed on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street as well as other incidental concrete work. Real progress has been made here as almost all of the utility work is now complete. KUB has their crews working to energize the new electric service in the next few weeks. Work in both the old vaults and the new vaults is continuing.

I am also glad to report that the work on the columns and sidewalks is still on track to occur in a couple of weeks. The Contractor is awaiting a new order for rebar based on the new designs and we will begin as soon is that material is received. The first phase, as we have stated, will begin at the Volunteer Ministry Building and proceed southward probably going 3 to 6 columns at a time. We hope to have the Surveyors transfer those locations of the columns up to the existing sidewalk so everyone can get a feel of the distances between columns. Of course the old sidewalk will be removed as a phase of this project and the column under the sidewalk will be reinforced with concrete. The exploratory digging is all but complete on the west side of S. Gay Street and is continuing on the east side. We are estimating at this time that it may take 2 to 3 weeks per section of sidewalk for completion. After this first bit of work is completed, however, we hope to provide a good estimate so folks can know when the work will occur in front of their residence or business. I will be getting with folks on the west side next week in an effort to understand any optimal times for our work as the removal phase will be quite disruptive, probably taking 4 hours or so. I think folks will be surprised when the first section of sidewalk is completed at just how much wider and nicer this will be. This new construction, coupled with the road and sidewalk completion in the 200 Block, should give everyone a real sense of the completed project.

We are now also moving over into the eastern sidewalk area with exploratory digging and other types of work. This area is proving to be much better as far as column location and strength and general conditions. The Contractor has punched his way out on the east side onto lower Jackson Avenue as depicted in the picture below. Debris for the digging and other excavation is being routed through here for disposal. It is also interesting to note the condition of the Jackson Avenue ramps in this picture. Note the deteriorating condition of the concrete at the top of the picture and the quick fix required to stabilize the condition.

The above view is of the eastern sidewalk showing both the existing sidewalk and facade and the lower 1919 section taken from the stairway on the old WNOX property leading to the units above the Emporium. The debris on the lower sidewalk is from the removal of the interior walls separating the old sidewalk into rooms as also occurred on the west side of the street.

Thanks for all the well wishes and encouragement from folks on the block on my return. It was greatly appreciated and as always, thanks for your interest in the Streetscapes Project.
I plan to schedule another meeting before Thanksgiving so I hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lane Closure

KUB will be pulling high voltage cable tomorrow -Wednesday (Oct 28,) on Summit Hill Dr between Walnut St and State St in the Westbound travel lane of Summit Hill.

All traffic control device will be implemented from 8:00am to 5:00pm for this "lane closure"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Construction Update - October 22, 2009

Thanks to those who attended the Streetscapes meeting on October 20 at the Emporium. Especially I would like to thank Hannah Parker, the City of Knoxville Downtown Coordinator among many other jobs she holds in the City, for directing the meeting in my absence along with several other folks from the City who attended.

Issues addressed ranged from 200 Block construction to signage, to security. Thanks to KPD for attending and continuing to help out here.

The four parking meters along short State Street have been put back in use and we believe the consensus is to make them 30 minute meters for short term parking as has been requested.

The 200 Block work is progressing quickly and we hope to be pouring concrete to reconstruct the west sidewalk and roadway in 2 to 3 weeks with final completion optimistically before Christmas.

Work on columns and sidewalks in the 100 Block should begin by Thanksgiving. I have been assured today that all design, cost, and construction details have been worked out so this is very good news.

The last bit of concrete has been poured for Fire Street Alley and a couple of sections of the adjoining sidewalk near O.P.Jenkins.

I hope to be back next week and have some more in depth news concerning construction. In the meantime, don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of help.

Thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Construction Update - October 15, 2009

Fire Street alley has now been completed and I think it looks very good. There remains some work to be done on the sidewalk and alley entrance on the south end. We plan to replace the two panels on either side of the alley entrance since both have been cracked and patched through the years due to utility work.

We plan to begin the planned work on the 200 Block of S. Gay Street as early as today. This complete street closure may take up to three months but our goal is to try to have it substantially finished by Christmas. This will be the finished look with narrowed street and wider sidewalks, etc.

Visibility to the 100 Block form Summit Hill and Gay Street will certainly be enhanced when this is completed. One sidewalk will be open at all times. We plan to begin excavating the west sidewalk as well as the street itself and will probably have that finished by the weekend. A waterline is under the west sidewalk and it must be moved and replaced as part of this project. Pedestrian traffic will be diverted to the eastern sidewalk with signage while this work goes on. When this work is completed, the eastern sidewalk will be taken out and folks can then traverse the new, wider, western sidewalk.

Vine Avenue will remain open at all times throughout this work. After the 2oo Block is reopened, it is possible that we may have to very temporarily close some of Vine Avenue to complete the utility work.

KUB continues to make significant progress with electrical service. The rainy weather has had an effect lately but we are still on target to have the new service energized as we planned. Sometime in the next month we can expect some temporary outages and KUB will be in contact with those affected per their process. Hopefully, I will also be in the loop enough to help notify folks as well.

The construction office trailer (see below) will be moving onto the Jackson Avenue parking lot this week for the duration of the project.

We are moving forward on the purchase of this lot and have taken steps recently to have abandoned vehicles removed. This parking lot is all but full most days as most of you know.

We continue to experience delays on our 100 Block sidewalk and column replacement. The latest setback involves exploratory work we have done on the column support system. You may have noticed in some previous pictures that the columns are setting on some circular caissons under the sidewalk so the issue has been how to reinforce these structures for the new sidewalk. We discovered this past week that two of the columns have no support whatsoever.

As a result of this new information we are having to redesign this expanse. However, we feel that the rest of the design is still good to go and I remain hopeful that we can start in the next month.

My thought is that at some point soon the 200 Block will be completed and also as the 100 Block sidewalks are completed, folks will begin to get a real sense of the finished project as the widened and enhanced sidewalks from Jackson toward Vine are completed and when the western sidewalk is finished folks will once again have a great pathway to the businesses located there.

It is very hard right now to get a feel for how it may look so I am including the picture below. Please notice the fire hydrant near the center of the picture. This hydrant will be near the edge of the sidewalk on the eastern side. It is very hard to visualize here, but when you walk by there take a look at it. I think you will be surprised when you see just how much wider the sidewalk will be there.

After requests concerning parking in the area we plan to take the bags off of the meters on State Street (W. Vine) as early as today. I plan to ask for guidance at the meeting as to the timing of the meters as it has been suggested that we make these meters 15 to 30 minute only.

Also, please realize that these particular four meters will be going away in a few months as work progresses since this piece if the street will be eliminated. We will also be talking about possibly designating the parking space currently signed for KPD on the Gay Street Viaduct as temporary parking with some time period associated.

Please don't forget the 100 Block meeting at 5:30pm on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at the Emporium. I hope to have representatives from KPD, KUB, City Engineering, Southern Constructors, CBID, and other City staff folks there to help with any issues.

I look forward to seeing you then.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Streetscapes Meeting

The next meeting is now scheduled for October 20, 2009 at 5:30pm at the Emporium.

The tentative agenda is as follows. Hope to see you there.

1. Call to Order
2. Discussion of completed construction
3. Next phase of Construction
a. 200 Block of S. Gay Street
b. Column and sidewalks in the 100 Block of S. Gay Street
4. Other issues
a. Signage and advertising
b. KPD issues
c. Parking
5. Adjourn

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Construction Update - October 8, 2009

Please forgive this abbreviated update. I have been out of the office most of this week on a personal matter so I have not had time to check on construction as much as I normally do nor was I able to attend our construction meeting.

However, I was able to check in with our Job Superintendent today and he assures me 'all is well in Mayberry'. Just kidding.

Fire Street alley is all but completed and I know it was looking good last week. Thanks to the Contractor for accommodating everyone as best he could including garbage pickup.

It looks like we are on track to begin work on the 200 Block of S. Gay Street as early as the middle of next week. When I find out more I will post immediately but the thinking was that we would close this block off for three months and completely finish it up with new road and sidewalks.

Also next week, we will begin work underground on the columns and soon after the 100 Block sidewalks.

Next week, we will also begin work on waterlines in the 100 Block.

Last my friend wanted me to announce the annual City People Home Tour. Some of the homes are located in the 100 Block so this will be a good time for folks to check out downtown living.
The Home tour is this Sunday October 11th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. It will be a fine day to tour 15 homes all over Downtown. Go to or their Facebook page for more info.

Thanks for your interest.