Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jackson Avenue Parking Lot


The City of Knoxville will begin charging for parking in the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot beginning on or around September 10 – though parking will still be free there at night and on weekends.

The lot will be closed temporarily beginning September 1, for cleaning and re-striping and to allow the city to install parking equipment needed for the switch to paid parking. All vehicles must be removed from that lot by 7 a.m. on Sept. 1.

Currently the city offers free parking in the Jackson Avenue lot – which includes roughly 200 spaces - and has since it purchased the property last year in the midst of the Gay Street Streetscapes project.

The city will continue to offer free parking at the 200-space Old City Lot located nearby beneath the James White Parkway.

The new parking management policy is aimed at supporting businesses located on the 100 Block and North Gay Street areas by making sure there are spaces available for people patronizing those establishments during the day. There is concern that if the city doesn’t charge for parking a growing number of the spaces will be used by downtown workers who park there throughout the day.
That would leave a limited number of spaces for customers and clients of businesses in the vicinity. The city had been asked by some residents and business owners in the 100 Block area about the issue.
“When the city was approached to create a management structure in the lot one of the things we heard repeatedly was that both businesses and residents are helped when there is consistent turnover and availability,” said Hannah Parker, the city’s policy analyst and downtown coordinator. “While we elected not to charge for parking throughout the Gay Street construction project, we are doing so now in an effort to continue to spur redevelopment along Jackson and Gay, which is quickly becoming one of the most important east/west corridors in downtown.”
As part of the upcoming renovations the city will include a payment kiosk that accepts coins, bills and is capable of conducting secure credit card transactions.

The Public Building Authority and Republic Parking will manage the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot for the city and will offer paid daily and monthly parking.

Rates will be $1 an hour, for a maximum daily rate of $8, or monthly parking is available for $40. For more information on rates please contact Republic Parking at 865-524-0602 or PBA at 865-595-3350.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Construction Update - August 12, 2010

The 100 Block of S. Gay Street has now reopened without any hitches that I am aware of. The next few pictures are of the roadway just before it was opened for traffic.

The next two pictures are of the road after opening. As we all expected, it is already getting heavy use.

The sidewalks are looking very nice as well

I could not resist posting a sketch of the above picture using an app on my Iphone.

The parking meter kiosks for the 100 Block are still being ordered and before those are installed we will begin an education process. The same machine will be used on the Jackson Avenue parking lot. This lot is set to be cleaned and restriped in early September. I will post more on this at a later date.

The large 20-25 foot Elm trees will be planted sometime in October and will require that we shut the road back down for about two days. I will work with folks on the Block to get the best time for that work.

The plants in the planters will be replaced soon as many have obviously not survived the heat and the landscaping around the Cradle of Country Music Park is ongoing.

About all that remains to be done on the Block is some cleanup and more caulking.

The Block Party planning is continuing with the projected date of the the Party being September 10, 2010. Also, the 100 block organizational meeting is at 5:30 PM on August 18th at the Emporium building.

Finally, it is long overdue to thank the folks who got the job done for us here.

Terry Snelling was our Job Superintendent from Southern Constructors and we were so lucky to have him in charge. You often hear the term "herding cats" and that is exactly what this complicated project was like. Lest we forget, we had one of the wettest years last year, one of the coldest stretches, and now one of the hottest summers on record. This combined with all if the redesigns and and unknown issues resulted in a monumental task just to get the job done anywhere near the projected date. Terry methodically worked through each challenge and issue getting the right folks at the right times with the right equipment to handle each task. On a job like this , the Superintendent is also responsible for each of the subcontractors. At various times on this job we had well over 50 folks working on various tasks. While all of this was going on Terry always kept an eye out for how it might effect the folks on the Block. Whenever he knew he was going to create a hardship, he went out of his way to find something he could do to make it up to folks if he could. You don't often see that type of caring on these types of jobs.

Terry and his crew actually became a part of the fabric of the Block and went out of their way many times to assist anyone there needing help. His folks were courteous and hard working at all times. Alex, J.R., Jerry and many others who were out there almost all of the time really went above the call of the duty, I thought, in their dealings with the public. It is a testament to the folks at Southern Constructors that they have folks in their employ with this type of respect. Thanks to Richard Huskey, Owner, and to Mike Gray who handled the financial issues and project management for Southern. Those guys all did a great job.

Also many of the subs were equally as helpful on this job. Blount Excavating had most of the heavy equipment and Roger Williams was usually the guy in charge and operating the equipment for them. He was the big guy out there sometimes directing crews but also oftentimes directing traffic, or helping folks move in, or giving directions to folks, or helping folks park correctly. He and Len Smith and his crews played a big role in our success here.

Massey Electric folks also did a great job working with us and KUB. Thanks to Mike and Andy and the rest of those crews as well.

From the Public Sector end, we really had to have a lot of coordination with the various utilities particularly. Everette Noe, Gordon Bryant, and Bill Grady were the engineers who really helped make it happen. Jason Cole with KUB was their inspector and Jason's assistance was really invaluable to our timeline.

Andrew Luttrell was the Inspector on site from City Engineering and he was another integral part to getting this job done. His timely suggestions and expertise at critical times played a huge role in our success.

Robin Tipton was the City Engineer responsible for this project and she was just remarkable. I had worked with Robin some many years ago but her knowledge and caring and thoughtfulness here really made a huge difference and I was so impressed with her.

As a surveyor myself, I must acknowledge the huge contributions made by our City Surveyors, Russ, Rusty and Craig. So many problems were avoided by their project knowledge and redesigns in the field.

Others involved in the City were Engineers Tom Clabo, Brent Johnson, and Director Steve King.

Folks in the City of Knoxville should be proud that we have such a professional staff on board.

Folks in my shop were also a great resource and those folks would include Bill Lyons, Sr. Director of Policy and Communications, Hannah Parker, Anne Wallace, Bob Whetsel, and Randy Kenner.

Folks involved from Vaughn and Melton included John Kenst, Andrew Hutsell, and David Harrell to name a few. Ross/Fowler had the landscape architecture part of the job and Mike Fowler was our resource there.

Mickey Mallone, Director of Special Events for the City, Michelle Hummel of the CBID, Bobby Hubbs, Mark Fortner, and Brad Anders of KPD were also folks who assisted us.

There are, of course, many others to thank but I have already gone on too long.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Mayor Haslam and the members of City Council for having the courage to move this complicated yet much needed project forward.

Most of all the thanks go to all of the folks on the 100 Block who lived through the dust, noise, weather, utility outages, unknown pathways, and general disruptions of their lives. This is one of the most densely populated ares of our region so the impact here was considerable.

Your patience and understanding for the last 18 months has been amazing.

It has been my great honor to get to know many folks on the block and I look forward to continuing those relationships.

All of you made this project work so thank you all for a job well done.

My posts here will probably not be as frequent but as issues arise I will continue to try to keep you informed. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can ever help you in any way.
As always, thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good News

I just talked to the Contractor and we should have the roadway on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street reopened in the morning. I will post more details later.

Update: The 100 Block of S. Gay Street is now open as of 8:30 this morning.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Construction Update - August 6, 2010

We are beginning to finish up the project this week by installing street signage and bike racks. The striping and other markings should be in place by tonight. The anticipated street opening is for sometime next week.

Of course there are other details such as caulking, etc. that will still be in process after the street opens, but the vast majority of the work has been completed at this point.

Some of the benches were realigned to avoid conflicts with utility boxes but overall street furniture has been placed exactly as we had planned without issue.

The holly trees for the Cradle of Country Music Park arrived and have now been planted with pin oaks and other vegetation still to come.

Many folks have expressed concern about the existing plants in the larger planters and we are addressing those issues. The landscaper has told us that they are all suffering from shock from being planted in the heat. Let me assure everyone that they are getting plenty of water. The landscaper is watering them every morning and the City is watering them three times a week.

The landscaper, who has guaranteed the plantings, assures us that he feels they are still alive and hopefully will come back out soon. In the event any of the plants fail to survive, he will replace them in early fall.

The timeline for the planting of the large trees on the block is still in discussion.

Please join me for First Friday tonight downtown and particularly on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street. Folks on the block depend on your continued patronage.

Also please note that the city of Knoxville is looking for a design for a banner for its arts district. The winning design will go on 26 banners hung from street poles primarily along Gay Street's 100 and 200 blocks. Deadline for digital submissions is Aug. 20.

Artists may submit up to three original designs. Submissions should include a solid color background and design using up to four colors. Designs will be juried by the city of Knoxville's Public Art Committee.

More guidelines and an application are at http://www.knoxalliance.com/ or interested artists can contact Suzanne Cada at the Arts & Culture Alliance, 865-523-7543 or sc@knoxalliance.com.

Plans are continuing to be made for the Block Party tentatively scheduled for September 10, 2010. A brown bag lunch meeting will be held at the Emporium at noon on Monday, August 9 to discuss the planned event.

As always, thanks for your interest.