November 16, 2006 - Mayor Bill Haslam announced
Wednesday that a selection committee has recommended building the
new Knoxville Station Transit Center at the east end of Church Avenue.
The site is one of three finalists that had been culled down from
an original list of more than 30 potential sites for the new $27
million bus transfer station.
The other two were at the Southern Railway Station on Depot Street
near Jackson Avenue and the site that Knox Area Transit currently
uses for a transfer station on Main Street in front of the City
There will be a Nov. 29th public hearing on the selection at 5:30
at the Market House room of the Knoxville Chamber Partnership at
17 Market Square.
Each of the three potential sites - discussed at a public meeting
last month - has advantages and drawbacks.
But the transit consultants and the design committee determined
that the Church Avenue location, which is near the Civic Coliseum
and Auditorium, had the best mix of location, construction and operating
costs in addition to meeting other criteria for a new station.
"The Church Avenue location is close to the heart of downtown
in addition to having some significant advantages over the other
two potential sites," Haslam said. "It allows for a covered
bus area with buses lining up on one level, the operating expenses
are reasonable and it has gotten the most positive feedback from
"It is the best site of the three choices," he said.
If the downtown station is built at that the end of the Church
Avenue viaduct it will sit above the revamped James White Parkway
and on the soon-to-be widened viaduct near the Hall of Fame Drive
The City of Knoxville is building the new center along with the
Public Building Authority.
The transit center will be developed with a mix of federal, state
and local dollars with the city providing a total of $3.5 million
of the money while the Federal Transit Administration will provide
The actual construction costs at the Church Avenue location are
estimated at $23.7 million and operating expenses are estimated
at around $654,000.
A little more than $3.1 million has already been spent in the planning
and selection process.
There is a business on the preferred site, American Accessories
International, which is located in the building that once housed
the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.
The building will have to be acquired as part of a plan to build
the bus transfer station at the end of Church Avenue. The city and
the property owner have had preliminary discussions.
William Lyons, the city's senior director of policy development,
said the Southern Depot location was the best of the locations with
a rail line nearby, which might allow it to be the hub of some type
of light rail transportation system in the future. "Ironically,
the only way to incorporate the existing Southern Railway station
into a full one-level transit facility would have meant removing
the spur that would have allowed rail access."
Keeping rail access required that buses to line up on two different
levels, with one requiring buses to line up along Depot. Moreover
the city would have to acquire access through Norfolk Southern property
That access had not yet been obtained and there would not have
been a covered loading area at that location.
The Depot Street site would also be the most expensive one by far
to develop to operate. Total cost of construction at that location
would be $25.3 million and operating costs are estimated at $937,000.
"The Main Street location ranked third because of significant
opposition from area stakeholders and it didn't meet the Knox Area
Transit's requirements for the new center," Lyons said.
It is the least expensive site to develop into a transit center
and operate but at the public meeting last month concerns were expressed
about traffic congestion, pollution and possible safety problems
at that location.
The next step in the process, if the Church Avenue site is ultimately
chosen, is for the Mayor to recommend it to the Federal Transit
If the FTA approves the recommendation the city could move forward
with the process of building the new transit center.