Construction to start on Broadway Viaduct in 2017

Sept. 20, 2016: TDOT will begin replacing the Broadway Avenue viaduct just north of downtown Knoxville in spring 2017.

DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE - Changes are coming to a major thoroughfare connecting downtown to North Knoxville. 

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has plans to replace the Broadway Viaduct, which is the bridge that spans one of Knoxville's most active rail yards. 

TDOT Spokesperson Mark Nagi said the bridge is aging and needs to be replaced. 

The bridge opened in 1927, and TDOT is expected to put the project out for bid in late 2016 or early 2017 to start construction by early spring 2017. 

Nagi said the project will take about two-and-a-half years to complete, and they are working with businesses in the area to notify the ones affected. 

On the south side of the bridge stands the Southeastern Glass Building, which is filled with businesses and residential condos. 

Chuck Morris, the principal and founder of Morris Creative Group, located his office in the building in 2011 knowing that the viaduct project was a possibility. 

Now he and other employees will have to navigate around the detours and construction for work. 

"It's the noise level," Morris said. "It's the dust. It's the ability to come and go to and from the office, have our clients here." 

Morris said occupants of the Southeastern Glass Building will lose their parking during the construction, meaning not only employees but also clients may have trouble accessing the building. 

"Rather than have them fight the traffic and the parking and whatever, I just think it won't be a good place to have meetings," Morris said. 

Across the street, Balter Beerworks sits at the corner of Broadway and Jackson Avenue. 

The brewery and restaurant opened earlier this year, and the drinks have been flowing. 

"Business has been great," said Blaine Wedekind, the founder of Balter Beerworks. "It's been received really well by the community." 

Wedekind said he believes the restaurant is a destination for people, especially now that other businesses have opened up close by on Jackson Avenue. He hopes the bridge closure won't affect his customer base significantly. 

"It is a major thoroughfare that runs right by our front door so losing the bridge definitely will change traffic count," he said. 

TDOT is proposing detour routes on Hall of Fame Drive, Fifth Avenue and Summit Hill Drive while construction takes place. 

When the work is finished, Morris said he thinks the construction will pay off with increased visibility for all the businesses in the area. 

"We're proponents of the development," Morris said, "but we just know there's going to be some pills to swallow."

(© 2016 WBIR)


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