May 20, 2010 -
The City of Knoxville has named Lawrie & Associates of Alexandria, Virginia as the most qualified lead engineering firm to enter into contract negotiations to design a pedestrian/bicycle bridge that will span the Tennessee River from the South Waterfront to the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. Local firms that will subcontract with Lawrie & Associates include Wilbur Smith Associates, S&ME, Inc., Carol R. Johnson Associates, Sanders Pace Architecture, the O’Hanlon Group, and Cannon & Cannon.
The second ranked lead firm was Florence & Hutcheson (Nashville, TN) and the third-ranked firm was Palmer Engineering (Winchester, KY). If the city is unable to reach contract agreement with Lawrie & Associates, negotiations will move to next most qualified firm.
On March 5, 2010, the city issued a request for qualifications from companies interested in being selected as one of the three firms to submit draft design proposals for the new bridge as part of the competitive process to win the contract. Nine firms submitted qualifications on March 19, 2010. Three firms (Lawrie, Florence & Hutcheson, and Palmer) were selected to submit draft design proposals by May 14, 2010, followed by presentation to a 9-member evaluation committee on May 17, 2010.
Lawrie & Associates must now prepare a draft scope of work for the project by June 10, 2010, to be reviewed and revised during follow-up discussions with city officials. The final scope of work must be approved by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Knoxville City Council. Completion and approval of the contract is expected in August or September 2010. Completion of the design and permitting process is expected to take two to three years.
“I appreciate the work of the Evaluation Committee,” said Mayor Bill Haslam. “They were diligent in their deliberations, and I congratulate Lawrie & Associates on their selection.”
“It’s important that we start the design work and permitting process now so that as the economy improves the bridge will be ready for construction when the market for redevelopment begins to reemerge,” he added.
The bridge, which is included in the adopted 2006 South Waterfront Vision Plan, will enhance the greenways on the north side of the river and provide a critical linkage to the planned three-mile long Riverwalk on the south side of the river and to ridgeline areas being opened for public use by the Legacy Parks Foundation. It will also help create a market for redevelopment in the South Waterfront.
The bridge landings will be located at Clancy Avenue near Scottish Pike on the south side of the river and at the upper level pedestrian concourse between Thompson-Boling Arena and Pratt Pavilion on the north side.
“There were several firms that were highly qualified to design the bridge, and we’re very appreciative of the interest in the project,” said Dave Hill, the city’s senior director for South Waterfront Development, “The selection of Lawrie & Associates indicates a high level of confidence not only in their design capabilities, but also an acknowledgement that their team can manage several complicated review and approval requirements on a state and federal level.”
The Federal Highways Administration recently indicated that the city can use the $7.2 million transportation improvements grant for bridge construction. The funds include $6 million in federal funding and $1.2 million in City funding, and cannot be contractually committed to the project until the design is complete and all the permits are obtained. The design contract will be paid for with a $533,000 federal grant Knoxville was awarded in 2008 along with a $133,000 city match. A very preliminary cost estimate of property acquisition and bridge construction is $7 - $12 million.
“When the final contract is approved, bridge design options and cost estimates will be generated for public review,” Hill said. “We have to make sure we balance design objectives with cost feasibility so we can actually build a bridge that is viewed as an attractive addition to the community.”