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Jackson Avenue ramp work could make parking difficult

The section of Jackson Avenue between Broadway and Central Street is closed to traffic so the city can replace two ramps leading up to Gay Street.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With construction underway on the Jackson Avenue ramps downtown, there could be headaches for people going to the Old City Friday night. 

Portions of Jackson are closed and there are fewer parking spots in the popular lot across from Sweet P's BBQ. 

Drivers have been coming down Jackson from Broadway to Gay Street and then turning around.

Crews began construction on Monday and have already taken most of the bricks up on the west side of the ramp.

The work is expected to last until late 2020.

Jackson Avenue on both sides of Gay Street is closed. That means you can't take it from Broadway to Central or vice-versa.

Credit: WBIR
The city said the new ramps will closely resemble the current historic ones and are expected to open in late 2020.

RELATED: Crews remove century-old bricks from West Jackson Avenue ramps as project begins

East-west pedestrian access will be maintained through the construction zone during the project. A brightly colored metal staircase at the southern of the Gay Street viaduct will all people access between Gay Street and Jackson.

City leaders said the work is because the bridge is over 100 years old. 

"The concrete is just failing and so it needs to be repaired and we finally have the money to do it and all the pieces in place to get it started," City of Knoxville Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett said.

Emmett said the bridge is in failing condition and was closed several years ago before TDOT was able to barely reopen it. 

Credit: City of Knoxville

Another concern people have is where they'll park.

The construction equipment has taken up about 20 percent of the spots in the Jackson Avenue lot. The city said they're trying to mitigate any problems.

They're trying to move monthly parkers here to a different lot. Still, they want everyone to plan ahead before coming downtown.

Credit: WBIR

When the ramps reopen, more than $19 million will have been invested in this section of downtown/the Old City. That includes major investments in the 100 block of Gay Street, Jackson Avenue streetscape upgrades, and the purchase of the McClung Warehouses site and the Jackson Avenue parking lot. 

The cost of the ramp replacement is being split three ways. The federal government is the largest contributor – $8.1 million. The state’s investment is $1.75 million, and the City is funding $274,200.

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