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GAY STREET 100 BLOCK CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
100 Block Construction ProjectRick Emmett
Downtown Coordinator
remmett@cityofknoxville.org
Room 471, City County Building
865-215-2027 or 865-215-3837
Fax: 865-215-2320

Starting February 2009, the City will begin an extensive construction project on the 100 Block of Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Why?

Many Knoxvillians, even those who live, work, or spend time in downtown Knoxville may not know that the street and sidewalks on 100 Block of Gay Street are actually built on a bridge-like support structure, one full story above the original street level.

For daily information about the 100 Block Construction Project or to share your concerns please visit the 100 Block Construction Blog
View Circa 1920 Photo Comparison
100-200 Block Streetscape Design [PDF]
May 28, 2008 Meeting Notes [PDF]
May 28, 2008 Meeting Flyer [PDF]
October 1, 2007 Meeting Notes [PDF]
October 1, 2007 Slideshow [PDF]
100 Block Gay Street Closure Map Starting April 20 [PDF]
08/03/09 - Gay Street Streetscapes Project Public Meeting August 11
04/13/09 - 100 Block Gay Street Closing April 20
03/12/09 - Jackson Avenue to Close March 18
03/10/09 - Public Meeting to Discuss 100 Block Gay Street March 11
03/05/09 - 100 Block Gay Street Open for First Friday
02/25/09 - Public Meeting Regarding 100 Block Gay Street Construction
02/25/09 - Summit Hill Drive Closed
02/09/09 - Gay Street Streetscapes Project Begins Feb. 16th
01/14/09 - Construction Company Selected for 100 Block Project
The supporting infrastructure was built, and the street raised, to connect Gay Street up and over the railroad tracks via the newly-built Gay Street viaduct in 1919.

At that time, Knoxville's railroad tracks were constantly busy moving people and goods to and from downtown and out across the country.

The at-grade railroad crossing at Gay Street had become a safety hazard and an impediment to commerce, and the city constructed the viaduct to move people and vehicles across the railroad tracks safely and efficiently.

1919 Construction
Photograph circa 1919 - From the McClung Historical Collection - Thompson Photograph Collection. Click here to view larger photo.

The Gay Street viaduct was rebuilt by the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2005-2006, but the support structure that is holding up the 100 Block has not undergone major repairs since it was built in 1919. It is now in desperate need of major repairs, and the City has set aside capital budget dollars to get the job done.

There are significant and unique challenges associated with this project. The vast majority of the work needs to take place underground. The utility infrastructure is also outdated and, to some extent, improperly aligned. Some of the adjacent buildings extend underneath the existing public sidewalk. Uncertainty about existing conditions in inaccessible locations, and the need to meet new stormwater regulations, compound the challenges. The fact that this block is home to hundreds of people and dozens of businesses means that the stakes are high for completing the project quickly and efficiently in a way that, to the extent possible, minimizes disruption.

The upcoming construction project will rebuild the support structures, relocate and realign all utilities and replace surface-level streetscape features. While the primary purpose of the construction is to fix old and compromised infrastructure, the project's surface-level design includes cosmetic enhancements like wider sidewalks, street trees, and a sidewalk furnishing zone for features like benches, bike racks, etc. that will significantly improve the aesthetic condition of the block.

The City has held several public meetings to inform stakeholders about the upcoming project and seek input about streetscape design and how best to mitigate disruption to the block while getting the project completed quickly, efficiently, and within the budget.
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