Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Construction Update - May 27, 2010

Please don't forget the Jackson Avenue closure scheduled for June 1, 2010 at the Gay Street Viaduct. This closure will completely block off Jackson Avenue there for around two weeks for KUB electrical work. After that time we will reopen the road for a short time before we finish repaving as part of the Streetscapes project.

The sidewalk along Jackson Avenue will not be affected by this temporary closure.

We have really poured a lot of concrete the last few weeks and this week was no exception.The pictures below are of the roadway areas recently restored as well as the sidewalk areas in front of the restaurants.

The Contractor has now moved over into the next to the last section of the western sidewalk. The pictures below were taken in front of the former Harolds deli site and also Unarmed Merchants. We are working on the columns and beams in this area and hope to have the structural concrete poured back here by First Friday on June 4.

Work is continuing on finishing up the entire eastern sidewalk with the colored concrete topcoat. The Contractor has started the process of framing this area beginning at Vine Avenue and will probably begin pouring concrete here next week.

We have ordered traffic control signs to go at the O. P. Jenkins parking lot area where the parking area intersects the 200 Block of S. Gay Street sidewalk and we hope to have those installed this week.

As most of you know, the 100 Block is a very congested work site these days so please help us all out by using caution. We have tried to create several walking paths around the area but with so many paths having been created, there may occasionally be conflicts with vehicles entering the site. We apologize for all of the occasional inconvenience when folks find the pathway they used yesterday now blocked, but to finish the project we need this flexibility.
By First Friday, we hope to have almost half of the 100 Block poured back with structural concrete so please hang in there with us just a little longer.
The look of the 100 Block will change dramatically in the next few weeks and I hope everyone will be pleased with the outcome.
Thanks for your interest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Construction Update - May 21, 2010

The Contractor wanted me to let everyone know he will not be working Saturday, May 22 but will work on Sunday May 23.

He is working on the supporting structures under the western sidewalk and he is at a stage where he applies an epoxy which only has a 24 hr timing so he can proceed with this work on Monday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Construction Update - May 20, 2010

We continue to make significant progress on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street despite the periods of rain we have experienced lately. I did not realize how ominous the sky looked when I took the following two pictures.

The western sidewalk work is progressing and we are also pouring concrete for the roadway as we go, progressing from Vine Avenue northward.
Plans are to begin the colored topping for the eastern sidewalk this week. This work will occur primarily after hours so issues of building access can be minimized.
We believe once we get started here, work will proceed quickly.
We are all hoping to have the entire eastern sidewalk section completely finished by First Friday in June.
The picture below is of the rubber coating which is used to set the new colored concrete. Use of this product, along with extensive caulking, will minimize any water issues in the future.
The amount of caulking needed on this job is measured in miles and the 200 Block is currently being caulked between each band and section of sidewalk.

The work on the western sidewalk of the 100 Block is proceeding as we had hoped.
We now have the structural concrete poured for the sidewalk in front of the restaurants and have proceeded into the next section of sidewalk which is in front of Wells Fargo and Unarmed Merchants. Our plans are to have the structural concrete poured back here by First Friday in June as well.

The picture below is of the new sidewalk in front of Nama and Ollantays Havana Nights and also of the new concrete poured for the eastern portion of the roadway. The remaining western section of roadway here will be poured today, as I understand it.

I attended a demonstration for a parking kiosk this week. Our plans are to have two parking kiosks located on each side of the street in the center of the block. The City of Knoxville has not used this technology before for on street parking. The kiosk shown in the picture below is named "Luke" after the scene in Cool Hand Luke where Paul Newman, how should I say this, 'confiscates' the contents of parking meters. This machine is actually pretty amazing in its capabilities. I will post more on this later as we decide which options are used.
This type of meter will also be used on the Jackson Avenue parking lot when it becomes a managed lot this fall.

Thanks to Richard Huskey of Southern Constructors for these nice aerial shots taken of our work site.

There have been several close encounters of pedestrians and cars exiting the O.P. Jenkins parking lot in the 200 Block now that that section of roadway has reopened and City Engineering will be placing some traffic control measures here to better alert drivers and pedestrians to the hazards.
In the meantime, please be very careful here along the eastern sidewalk.
Vine Avenue has now reverted back to its original one way designation without any issues as far as I know.
Lastly, in order to finish up the remaining electrical work, we plan to completely close Jackson Avenue at the Gay Street Viaduct beginning June 1, 2010 for approximately two weeks. We will need one last closure here, probably in July, to finish up. Pedestrian traffic will be maintained at all times.

Thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Construction Update - May 13, 2010

Last week proved to be a challenging one in several respects for the 100 Block of S. Gay Street construction project. The two pictures below represent some of the issues we had to deal with.
Please folks, do not park or drive on the sidewalk. I know it is tempting but the glass block panels are not designed for that and the plywood we currently have covering up the openings are certainly not strong enough to support the weight of a vehicle. Thankfully, our Contractor had a fork lift and some massive steel plates nearby to help out here. And by the way, this was just a few hours before First Friday.

We are preparing this week to pour concrete on another section of roadway from Vine Avenue northward. The plan is to pour concrete back for the roadway as both sidewalks are constructed.

The O.P. Jenkins area parking lot was repaved and striped in time for First Friday and looks really good. This has added another ten parking spaces to the area. It is my understanding that parking meters will be installed here shortly. We have also discussed striping off parking spaces in the 200 Block area even though this area was designed for a KAT bus stop and a commercial loading zone. KAT is still in the process of determining their new routes and parking is allowed after 6:00pm in commercial loading areas so we felt like it would be appropriate to go ahead and stripe off these spots for parking which will potentially add another 8 or so parking spaces to the area.

State Street from Vine Avenue to Summit Hill Drive has been removed and is being graded, with grass and some additional trees to come and we think this will be a very nice green area. Future plans for this small park are still very much in the preplanning stage and no additional funding is currently in place for any improvements. We will make sure we engage the community when we begin that process.

Below is a picture of the base that held the Treble Clef statue. My understanding is that the City Art Committee has looked over this and is in the process of requesting a RFP in the future to replace this statue.

We completed the small section of sidewalk along Summit Hill Drive by First Friday as well. Below is a picture of that construction.

We moved our efforts last week over to the western sidewalk in front of the restaurants which has been challenging. Ollantays Havana Nights has closed temporarily for renovations so that has made our efforts here a little easier as far as providing access. Still, we are working in tight quarters here. We hope to have the structural concrete all poured for this section of sidewalk by next week. Nama remains open and we thank them for their patience.

You may recognize the underground areas in the next two pictures from some very early pictures I provided of the possible 1919 storefronts.

Also next week we will begin the next section of sidewalk generally in the Unarmed Merchants area and we hope to have this section finished by First Friday in June. At that point we will begin the last section of sidewalk in front of Dewhirst Properties around the first of June and hopefully complete that by mid June.

We also plan this week and next, to begin adding the colored concrete to the eastern sidewalk so in a couple of weeks, hopefully, the eastern sidewalk will be completely finished.

On Monday, May 17, 2010, we are currently planning to restore Vine Avenue from Gay Street westbound back to its original one way designation. With the opening of the 200 Block of S. Gay Street to traffic, we no longer have the need to make this stretch two way. We will also, once again, allow for parking on Vine Avenue so we will restore the 16 parking spaces that we have previously bagged for 'No Parking". With the additional spaces created on the O.P. Jenkins area lot and the additional spaces created on the 200 Block, and with these spaces being reopened, we should finally get back to having the much needed additional parking for the area.
We can always revisit the idea of making Vine Avenue two way in the future if the need arises.
Thanks to all of those who attended the Streetscapes meeting on Monday night. We value your input into our process.
Topics discussed included the closures on Jackson Avenue in June to complete some KUB electrical work. This will force us to have a complete closure on Jackson for some period of time as there are several unknown situations we will encounter here. We have pledged, as we always do, to make this closure as brief as possible but it could last at least a week of two. This will not effect pedestrian traffic along Jackson Avenue.
Also discussed was garbage collection on the block in the future, with the discussion centering on a central collection point, possibly in the rear of the buildings, and the creation of a 100 Block Association to give us consensus on how we proceed.
The Grand Opening celebration was discussed briefly and Mickey Mallonee, Director of Special Events for the City, asked that anyone wanting to help, or having ideas, should contact her via email at to discuss further. We have very tentatively discussed having this in mid September. We have placed several special events electrical boxes in the block which will enable us to easily have special events here in the future.
We will be attending demonstrations this week of the various parking kiosks we are considering for metered parking on the 100 Block. We plan to have two kiosks, each one located at the center of the block on each side of the street instead of parking meters. This new technology has never been used on public streets in the City of Knoxville. These kiosks will allow folks to pay by debit or credit cards if they desire. We will be evaluating some units that also have solar capabilities. The technology is there for folks to be able to add time to their meter via smart phone or computer as well.
We plan to use this same system when we convert the Jackson Avenue Parking lot to a paid lot in the fall. The plan is to allow the Contractor to finish his work and remove staging materials before refurbishing the lot. As I understand it, the plan is to allow for possibly the first two hours of parking to be free here. We are also planning to add a security camera which will be monitored by PBA who has the contract to manage the lot for us.
As always, thanks for your interest.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Construction Update - May 6, 2010

Thankfully we did not receive the massive amounts of rain this weekend others experienced so we had minimal problems with our 100 Block Construction efforts.

This week has been devoted primarily to repaving the O.P. Jenkins area parking lot. We hope to have this parking lot striped for parking and reopened by First Friday tomorrow night.

We are also working on the small section of sidewalk along Summit Hill and hope to have that reopened by tomorrow as well. Unfortunately, KUB chose to block the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street at the same time which has created some pedestrian confusion. We have coordinated our efforts pretty well so far but somehow this timing did not get communicated.

The widened area of sidewalk in front of the Commerce building was also completed this week. Sometime in the next month we will probably go ahead and finish this with the colored concrete topcoat.

We moved over to the sidewalk in front of the restaurants this week. The first day we started work a little earlier than usual which generated several complaints. We apologize for the early hours but we had promised to help the restaurants as best we could and in order for them to have a lunch opening, we had to start earlier. The noise component of our work ended this morning and the next two sections will not have the same business pressures so we should work a normal schedule. Our normal contract hours are 7 to 7 .

The picture below is of the concrete saw cutting through the beams at Ollantays Havana Nights restaurant.

Our neighbors to the north have also been impacted by our construction especially Regas Restaurant. We have placed some additional signage around to help folks find their way there and we have plans to have some Streetscape work go on there in the near future.

Just another note on some of the comments on my last post. We have plans to repair existing sidewalk in the O.P. Jenkins area and to replace missing sections which were removed by utility construction.

Vine Avenue is still a subject of some discussion. As it stands currently, upon project completion, and maybe even sooner, Vine Avenue will revert back to its one way status and the parking along that section of Vine will be restored. I am getting with Engineering to understand more about this but my understanding is that for Vine Avenue to remain two way, then the parking will have to be eliminated.

Please make plans to attend our Streetscapes update meeting scheduled for Monday May 10, at 5:30pm at the Emporium.

We will be discussing the work completed to date and our future schedule and timing.

Additional topics we plan to add for discussion include garbage pickup on the 100 Block, plans for a Grand Opening Celebration, and ideas for the newly created green space along the 200 Block.
Of course First Friday is tomorrow night and I hope to see you there.
Thanks for your interest.