KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After years of planning and discussions about upgrading Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, a portion will get new amenities in 2023.
According to a release sent out Thursday, the upgrades are mostly coming in the South Waterfront area — near the south side of the Henley Street Bridge. The amenities include the start of construction on the Sevier Avenue Streetscapes Project, including utility upgrades and relocations.
There will also be new streets built off Waterfront Drive, meant to accommodate apartments built on the south side of the city. Crews will extend Barber and Claude streets, connecting Langford Drive and Waterfront Drive. Sidewalks, streetlights, stormwater drains and on-street parking will also be added.
There will also be a new sidewalk on Lancaster Drive connecting South-Doyle Middle School, restaurants and other neighborhood anchors. It will be between Tilson Street and Sevierville Pike.
Around $2.7 million is also being used to build up the Baker Creek area of the Urban Wilderness Gateway park. According to the release, leaders plan to build shade structures, restrooms, a picnic area and more parking spaces.
City Council is also planning to built a new playground at Baker Creek Preserve. They said the "Adventure Playground" will integrate natural materials into the landscape such as boulders, a treetop walkway or log scramble play areas.
They said the playground should be open by the end of 2023. Great Southern Recreation is helping build the playground.
In total, they said the amenities cost around $7 million in contracts. Last year, they said 303,680 people used Urban Wilderness trails and one in five of those people were using it for the first time, an out-of-town guest.