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Small Step Heralds Major Pedestrian Connections Coming to Northwest Knoxville 
Western Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Completion
TDOT crews wrap up surface work on the pedestrian bridge over Western Avenue.

Northwest Knoxville has long been a community connected primarily by several major state highways and major City roads. The area has therefore almost exclusively been traversed by vehicle.

Construction taking place this month serves as a symbolic promise of a more pedestrian-friendly climate in the very near future.

The week of Monday, June 18, crews will begin construction for the approach trail to the new, impressive pedestrian bridge that spans over Western Avenue (State Route 62) from Ball Camp Pike to Third Creek Road.

Tim Hester points where Northwest Connector will come out.
Amid sidewalk construction on Western Avenue, City Parks and Greenways Coordinator Tim Hester points to the direction from which the funded Northwest Greenway Connector will eventually link.

This approach trail is an initial, small step from the City’s end to create a major greenway connection linking Victor Ashe Park to TDOT’s new pedestrian bridge and one day to the City’s Third Creek Greenway.

Tim Hester, City of Knoxville Parks and Greenways Coordinator, said the City is in the design phase for the 0.8-mile Northwest Greenway Connector linking from the Western Avenue pedestrian bridge to Victor Ashe Park.

Knoxville Parks and Recreation already has capital funding budgeted for this project, which is expected to cost nearly $2.5 million. If all goes as expected, construction could start as early as 2019.

This connector will be significant for many neighborhoods within northwest Knoxville. There are already hundreds of residences, three schools, dozens of businesses and restaurants, and a handful of churches that benefit from pedestrian options surrounding Victor Ashe Park.

There are 8.9 miles of connected pedestrian options around Victor Ashe Park, including:
  • Victor Ashe Greenway - 2.3 miles
    located within Victor Ashe Park

  • Pleasant Ridge Greenway - 1.5 miles
    stays on the west side of Pleasant Ridge Road from Merchant Drive intersection, linking to Victor Ashe Greenway at Bradshaw Road intersection, and extending southward until it ends at the bridge overpass of I-75

  • Northwest Greenway – 1.0 mile
    Begins in Northwest Middle School Park from the northern ending point of Victor Ashe Greenway and runs a series of loops within the park and school property

  • Pleasant Ridge Road sidewalk – 1.8 miles
    from Sanderson Road to Merchant Drive

  • Merchant Drive sidewalk – 1.9 miles
    From Pleasant Ridge Road intersection nearly to the Merchant Drive intersection with I-75

  • Bradshaw Road sidewalk – 0.5 mile
    Located on the Victor Ashe Park property adjacent to Bradshaw Road between Pleasant Ridge Road and Ball Camp Pike

  • Sisk Road sidewalk - 0.3 mile
    Links West Haven Elementary to Pleasant Ridge Road
Pedestrian connections around Victor Ashe Park
Pedestrian connections around Victor Ashe Park: The blue lines indicate sidewalks; green lines represent greenways and trails.

A contractor hired by Knoxville Parks and Recreation is scheduled to resurface the existing one-mile Northwest Greenway in Northwest Middle School Park this July.

Furthermore, the City’s Engineering Department is currently overseeing improvements to the intersection of Merchant Drive and Clinton Highway, which will improve connectivity and safety of the intersection.  

Meanwhile, TDOT crews have been putting the finishing touches on the surface of the approximately 500-foot-long, $3 million pedestrian bridge over Western Avenue this week.
The pedestrian bridge is part of TDOT’s $31.4 million project that widens Western Avenue between Schaad Road and Copper Kettle Road and adds five-foot-wide sidewalks to both sides of the state highway.

The approach trail that the City is building links from the bridge’s north end down to the lower sidewalk system on Western Avenue. The approach trail project includes a 263-foot-long trail and a 60-foot-long retaining wall.

Once the Northwest Greenway Connector links this bridge to Victor Ashe Park, all of those neighborhoods linked around the park’s pedestrian system will suddenly have access to another 5.5 miles of sidewalk on both sides of Western Avenue. Another 1.7 miles of sidewalk continues on Schaad Road.

Western Avenue Pedestrian Connections
Pedestrian connections around Western Avenue (notice Middlebrook Greenway--not yet connected--in the lower right corner): Blue lines represent sidewalks; green lines represent greenways and trails.

In total, the 7.2-mile sidewalk network on Western Avenue and Schaad Road gives pedestrians access to:
  • four major shopping centers,
  • two public schools,
  • five churches,
  • a Knoxville Fire Station No. 17,
  • dozens of restaurants and businesses, and
  • hundreds of residences.
Looking further out, the City has submitted a grant application for the first phase of connecting the pedestrian bridge at Western Avenue southward to the City's Middlebrook Greenway on Middlebrook Pike. Eventually, this piece would lead to the City's Third Creek Greenway.

Western Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
The southern end of the pedestrian bridge that spans Western Avenue. From this point at Third Creek Road, the trail will eventually link southward to Middlebrook Greenway.

So, yes: Construction starting this month for the City’s 263-foot approach trail to TDOT's Western Avenue pedestrian bridge is a small—but very significant—step!

City funding is set aside and the design phase is rolling, meaning that soon residents of Northwest Knoxville will have access to a 17-mile connected pedestrian system.

Visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/greenways for more information.

Posted by On 22 October, 2018 at 12:48 PM