The future look of the Cumberland Avenue Strip has changed again.
On Tuesday, city officials announced an updated timeline and design for the long-awaited redevelopment project.
Currently, the Strip, as it's known, is four lanes with no turn lane,
running next to the UT campus. It is lined with restaurants, bars, and
The city announced plans to redesign the Strip back in 2007. The
hope was to improve traffic flow in the area, and make it
more attractive. The original plan was to reduce traffic to one lane in
each direction, with a turn lane running the entire length of the
"The ultimate goal is to change it from a through street
to a 'to' street where people want to come here and spend time here,"
said Anne Wallace, the City's Project Manager in the Office of Redevelopment.
Now, plans are to separate the two lanes of traffic with a small, grassy median with left-turn lanes at most cross streets.
"Our traffic studies have shown that a median with turn lanes will
provide the best flow of traffic and increase pedestrian and vehicle
safety, as well as improve aesthetics," he said. "The construction will
obviously entail some disruption through that area, but we will do our
best to minimize its short-term impact."
Construction along the street from 17th Street to Volunteer Boulevard
is expected to begin in the late fall of 2013, after the end of next
year's University of Tennessee football season. It's expected to take
approximately 24 months.
The City will work with local businesses to ensure that access will
be maintained throughout construction. A number of businesses told
10News they approve of the changes that will be implemented on
"If we have more space for them [pedestrians] to walk, then that's more people who might want to step in here," said Ed Archer, the assistant manager of the Copper Cellar.
Lauer owns Moriconi's Pizzeria & Grill on Cumberland. He said his
Chicago-style restaurant, which opened up one week ago, will benefit
from the changes.
"I think it's going to increase business for us here as well," Lauer said.
He also said he believes his business is well-prepared to deal with the project's approaching construction process.
"I worry a little bit about it, but mainly, I think that with the support of the college, we'll do well here," Lauer said.
Currently, the project is in final planning and design stages,
including the securing of temporary easements to allow construction.
One significant change occurred Tuesday night. The Knoxville City
Council voted unanimously to give the project $565,000 for additional
design work. According to Wallace, that money will allow the city to
reconfigure electrical supply lines in the area.
"This change will actually save us money for the overall project
budget," Wallace said. "In talking with KUB, we were able to change our
original plans to bury the electrical transmission line within
Instead, because of a new substation at Dale Avenue and 17th Street,
KUB will only need to run two supply lines laterally beneath Cumberland,
crossing the avenue at 18th and 22nd streets. As a result, the
estimated electrical infrastructure cost for the project will drop from
$2.5 million to $1.1 million. The total project is still within its
$14.6 million budget.