Wed
Nov 21 2012
04:45 pm

We asked Knox Co. Mayor Tim Burchett's office about the mayor's position on the James White Parkway Extension project. The mayor's office responded that Mayor Burchett has already expressed a number of concerns to Gov. Haslam, including the following:

1) The extension would pull much-needed traffic away from struggling businesses along Chapman Highway;

2) This project would upset well-established neighborhoods in South Knoxville;

3) This project may not be the best use of $100 million in our county. These state funds could be better used on other projects in Knox County.

RELATED:

Rogero opposes JWP extension
Public hearing: James White Parkway Extension

86
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Rachel's picture

Nice scoop, Randy.

Nice scoop, Randy.

Rachel's picture

Frank Cagle opposes JWP

Treehouse's picture

Yeah!

Thank you Mayor Burchett! You make good, reasonable arguments. Absolutely use those funds on other, more important projects.

jbr's picture

Like Chapman Highway and the

Like Chapman Highway and the other 8 roads going from the river area to John Sevier.

michael kaplan's picture

This could be a unique

This could be a unique opportunity for TDOT to develop (with community participation) a really innovative and transformative 21st century project that would combine public transportation, existing road and intersection improvement, sidewalks for pedestrians and new bike lanes - all while protecting the fragile ecology of South Knoxville and enhancing the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Average Guy's picture

$100 million to the Baptist hospital site

I dont know if it's too far gone as a hospital, but if not, $100 million could go a long way to turning the old site into a top notch VA hospital. The local VA outfits seem small, with some offering only outpatient care.

With this site's proximity to UT, it's feasible it could become learning center focused on prosthesis and post traumatic issues for the entire region. Other parts could be used for family housing for veterans requiring an extended stay.

This would benefit UT Medical School, the VA, repurpose a blight for the City and would likely be more politically popular than an unneeded, economically harmful road. Another benefit would the economic benefit families would bring, both to the overall city and Chapman corridor.

Somebody's picture

Nothing against the VA

Nothing against the VA hospital concept, but I don't think transportation funding can so easily be shifted to a non-transportation project. These things go through budgeting processes, and highway projects are usually funded in large part with federal highway funds. Your idea would be about the same as taking money from a Veterans Administration hospital construction grant, and using it to build a road instead. These things just don't work that way. (Nor should they.)

That said, I'm no fan of the JWP extension, either. I think we're at a point in our country's history when we should mostly curtail the urge to build new highways, and instead start shifting those resources to creating infrastructure for other modes of transportation, like, say, rail. That doesn't mean magically shifting the $100m to a rail project. That means canceling the JWP project (and others like it), and getting the state and Feds to start budgeting more more for rail infrastructure.

fischbobber's picture

An observation about the JWP bridge

It's a lot like pedestrian infrastructure around Westtown Mall. Non motorized infrastructure exists, but it's not maintained very well. The times I've driven the bridge, what would be the bike lane was so full of crap, a difficult ride would be downright dangerous.

The climb on the bridge from north to south requires some sort of acknowledgement from people in charge of maintenance that it is indeed somewhat of a challenge, and that that challenge is supported by the local community. There are multiple ways of achieving that goal, and I believe that the various groups pining for primary usage, should be involved in the design of the non-motorized passage on the bridge. But challenge or not, the South Knoxville (JWP) Bridge is the connector between the greenway system on either side of the river. It's what we have and it's what we've got to work with.

What is frustrating about issues such as this is that we have done so much as a community, and put so much together. Yet, we miss such basic needs as sending a street sweeper over the bridge on a schedule that would make walking and biking over the bridge a realistic option. That is what it takes to make these projects go.

From my house behind Westtown mall, I now have realistic access to Knoxville from Cedar Bluff to Ijams and beyond, yet we're not (or at least weren't) managing our infrastructure to encourage non-motorized transportation. Granted, getting past the Henley Street project has been problematic, but still, the South Knoxville Bridge needs to be kept in passable condition for pedestrian traffic. By having and maintaining adequate facilities at Ned McWhertor Park and making sure there is access to restrooms and water at the south side of the bridge, we can easily and cheaply both acknowledge and address the challenges of the bridge. It is by no means an insurmountable obstacle, and yet, it is still somewhat of an accomplishment. It will be how we choose to view and market it.

The infrastructure in place south of the river lends itself to the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness/Waterfront plan. I would like to see some plans for parking and shuttle systems, as well as pedestrian and bicycle access to greenways, from the roadways that are currently in place.

Finally, we should dedicate ourselves to linking all areas of our county to downtown via greenway. As basic as this goal sounds, and as much infrastructure that exists, there still isn't a cohesive plan. This is a five year goal that has been achievable for the last twenty years. Someone needs to step up and make it happen, captain.

bizgrrl's picture

the South Knoxville (JWP)

the South Knoxville (JWP) Bridge is the connector between the greenway system on either side of the river

I would have never guessed the So Kno Bridge was an important access point for the greenway system. I'd probably much more prefer to use the Gay Street Bridge, and the Henley Bridge when it is complete. I am not a big user of the greenways except for certain spots. I do know downtown and South Knoxville.

fischbobber's picture

Greenways

Currently, there is a greenway north of the river that ends under the bridge at Ned McWhorter park. At the point directly south of the bridge, it appears that there is a direct, low traffic means by which to get to the Island Home, Ijams and beyond greenways and bike trail.

The problem with Gay Street and Henley Street is traffic and terrain. From Henley, it would appear that the safest, bike acessiest means to Island Home is Moody, which ironically is also the way to the JWP bridge. The Gay Street to Sevier Ave route looks dangerous and narrow to me in the times I've scouted it. Looking back, there really wasn't much traffic, but the road does have that heavily traveled feel and I suspect if the Baptist Hospital site is ever reclaimed will have a bit more traffic.

I suspect there are people intimately familiar with bike routes and greenways south of the river whose input on commuter and recreational riding would be valuable during the course of the JWP extension discussion. I hope to acquire this knowledge but I'm not there yet.

The bridge itself would seem to be uniquely suited to bicycle traffic, especially once the Henley Street Bridge project is completed. It is wide enough for a safe bike lane and the traffic is sparse for its size. It does appear to be quite a climb, but it's not as bad as Cresthill.

Finally, the bridge is a huge piece of the puzzle if making Knoxville a biking destination is on anyone's agenda.

Rachel's picture

The Gay Street bridge is

The Gay Street bridge is really suitable for bike traffic, and the newly signed route from downtown to Ijams goes that way.

Jim also rides to work that way, although he isn't intimidated by riding in traffic the way some recreational riders are.

The new Henley bridge will also have bike lanes.

So I think cyclists will have options in the future.

fischbobber's picture

From Vol-N-Beer

I suppose it's all in what one is looking for in a ride, but from the standpoint of working with scouts on a cycling merit badge, I'm not wild about Sevier/Island Home west of Vol-n-Beer. I can certainly see it as a commuter route, though.

(We scouted the route after getting rained off the golf course.)

I was fairly impressed with the route over the JWP bridge on several levels though and I hope the options you spoke of for cyclists are explored and expanded upon.

Speaking of the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations, it would be nice to see some sort of group camping area with direct access to the greenway system. Sort of an urban Virginia creeper kind of deal.

R. Neal's picture

I'm not wild about

I'm not wild about Sevier/Island Home west of Vol-n-Beer.

Hmm. Folks in Old Sevier who are working hard to preserve their community might disagree.

I grew up there and was riding bicycles there before you were born. Guess you had to be there. There's still hope for the future, though.

fischbobber's picture

Before I was born?

I didn't think bicycles had been invented then.

In all seriousness, I had less problems with the route than I did its suitability for younger riders. As I've said, I like the route from a commuter standpoint, from a dad riding recreationally with his middle school age son, not so much.

We used to ride from Cedar Bluff to campus with the old "Can I ride bikes with Ed?" trick. The old vague circular question with no definite destination ploy. We rode the other way to Farragut once we got to high school. Traffic is not as sparse, and people are more distracted and seem to be in a bigger hurry today. I'm still riding a Schwinn, but the world has changed around me.

FWIW. Middlebrook Pike had two lanes then as God intended, and Farragut was on the south side of Kingston Pike, and the gym had a real wood floor with actual live and dead spots that it was helpful to know if you intended to dunk the ball, (or in my case, touch the net) just exactly where they were.

;-)

Rachel's picture

never mind

misread what I was replying to. Duh.

fischbobber's picture

Curious

Is there general opposition to connecting South Knoxville Greenways to those north of the river?

bizgrrl's picture

The area along Sevier you

The area along Sevier you feel the need to avoid is less than one mile. There is a church, an elementary school, a laundry mat, and residences along the route. It seems a fine route to me. The sidewalks may be a little crumbled. Maybe it just has to do with familiarity or the area.

I don't know that anyone is against connecting South Knoxville Greenways to those north of the river. IMO, I find riding through town, across the Gay Street bridge, down Sevier an interesting ride.

fischbobber's picture

The area along Sevier you feel the need to avoid is less than on

I don't feel the need to avoid anywhere. My observation on road condition (lack of a shoulder, sidewalks in need of maintenance, and a moderately steep climb to the bridge with no real bailout for those that missed a shift or were unable to make the climb) was based on a twenty -five year career as a driver for the largest transportation company in the world. Over twenty of those were spent on safety committees discussing problems and solutions to situations such as these. I have a twenty year safe driving award and would be readily accepted as an expert in any court in America. As it currently stands, the Sevier Avenue stretch of the bike route is inappropriate for general family recreational riding. It is not the only part of the bike route that meets this definition. The stretch of Kingston Pike from Markman's to the Library also falls in this category.

It is suitable for more advanced riders.

rikki's picture

what to do with JWP

The current terminus of JWP at Moody would make an outstanding location for the new jail/intake facility the Sheriff has been talking about, as well as other emergency services and dispatch. It offers rapid access to and from most parts of the county, yet the structure itself could incorporate the existing overpass and embankments for significant security and fortification.

Construction there would likely be cheaper because the ground has already been graded, and a project like that could conceivably qualify for federal brownfield or redevelopment grants.

fischbobber's picture

A model

There is a shared parking policy in place in Clinton at the jail for those wanting access to the Clinch river. Perhaps we could see how their process is working and develop a shared parking model at such a facility for a variety of uses.

Rachel's picture

The current terminus of JWP

The current terminus of JWP at Moody would make an outstanding location for the new jail/intake facility the Sheriff has been talking about

I'm going to assume that's a joke, or you've already started on the wedding champagne.

bizgrrl's picture

My thoughts exactly.

My thoughts exactly.

Fabricant's picture

A new jail on "Moody" avenue?

A new jail on "Moody" avenue? Oh, the irony.

jbr's picture

I am thinking there are lot's

I am thinking there are lot's of options for the jail. South side of the river would be way down the list.

JCB's picture

Farragut would be the clear

Farragut would be the clear choice here just for fun.

But in terms of energy savings, South Knox makes the most sense as it is the nearest point.

Fabricant's picture

Yeah, apparently it is more

Yeah, apparently it is more of a "safety center" than a jail and looks to be located near the Helen Ross McNabb center in North Knoxville. It would supposedly ease the overcrowding issue at the current Maloneyville Road jail for years (and, therefore, act as a deterrent to those wishing to push for the construction of a new county jail).

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Jail/Intake

Makes more sense than putting the jail out Washington Pike in the middle of a residential area where there is no public transportation and the only access is two-lane Washington Pike. Maloneyville Road makes no sense, costs the city and the county a fortune in gas, not to mention the traffic nightmare, but they did it anyway. At some point, the fact that the jail is miles away from the courts, in a relatively inaccessible location and without any transportation infrastructure, has to be addressed and corrected.

Rachel's picture

Makes more sense than putting

Makes more sense than putting the jail out Washington Pike in the middle of a residential area

And you think what Rikki suggests isn't?

I agree Maloneyville Road makes no sense, but these South Knoxville neighborhoods have already been torn apart by the JWP. They are struggling and the last thing they need is a freakin' jail in their midst.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Safety Center/Intake

I don't necessarily agree that JWP/Moody is a good place to locate it - just that it makes more sense than Maloneyville. I think the interstate accessibility and the more central location makes JWP/Moody a possible candidate, but I don't know whether there is public transit there or even if there is suitable land or buildings available.

Not that logic necessarily figures in all that much in the location decision, if it comes to that. The location decision could likely end up being more political than logical.

If the Safety Center function gets funded, and I hope it does, it needs to be in a central location with public transportation options. But hopefully not the 4th & Gill/Central corridor either, because the neighborhoods there already bear the burden of too many social services and the like in a smallish area.

It would be nice if there was a really good public process around this, and a well-developed plan that would truly help solve problems instead of possibly creating more.

Rachel's picture

I agree with you on the need

I agree with you on the need for a good proces, but this would be a terrible location.

Not sure how much land is availble, but there are no existing buildings. And it's right next to SDMS, which is deal-breaker as far as I'm concerned.

rikki's picture

Thank you, Lisa, for at least

Thank you, Lisa, for at least prodding Rachel into the realm of rational dialogue. The dead space at the current terminus is probably about 3 acres in size, inside a triangle bounded by Moody and the two JWP access ramps. The area is already completely isolated from the surrounding community, with the only practical ingress and egress being JWP.

If the facility's design permitted access to Moody, KAT buses would be available at the doorstep.

Obviously such a facility will bring out the nimbys wherever it might go, and nimbys will only see negatives. Nonetheless, the existing terminus of JWP offers considerable positives as a site for a secure, controlled facility.

Rachel's picture

Rikki, Fergawdsakes, when

Rikki,

Fergawdsakes, when have I ever been a nimbyite? My neighbors are ready to tar an feather me becasue I don't have any problem with a 180 unit apt complex just outside our neighborhood (assuming all the conditions of the SW form-based code are met).

Marriage is supposed to mellow you out, dude.

I don't believe you are as familiar with the geography of the area as you think. You don't build an intake center next to a middle school (and a couple of blocks from an elementary school).

And what the heck does public transportation have to do with it? Are we transporting prisoners on KAT now?

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Transportation

And what the heck does public transportation have to do with it? Are we transporting prisoners on KAT now?

I can think of a number of good reasons why public transportation matters. What do you think happens when prisioners get released? How do you think persons without cars get to the jail to bail someone out?

Big Al's picture

Intake center?

I thought this was a done deal as another hit for north Knoxville strongly supported by Commissioner Broyles who I believe stated it would be a great thing for north Knoxville. Have alternatives to the Broyles-supported located been mentioned?

rikki's picture

The article in today's KNS

The article in today's KNS mentions no specific site.

Big Al's picture

I could be mistaken but I

I could be mistaken but I thought the Broyles location had already been "prepped" for this mini-jail?

rikki's picture

maybe sorta?

As far as I can tell, no money has been allocated to this project, so it seems unlikely any site prep has been done. Helen Ross McNabb has agreed to manage the residential treatment portion of the project, and they have an existing facility off Central Ave. The new intake center was proposed to be built next to that facility. If the plan is for them to dedicate 22 beds in that facility to treating inmates, I guess that could count as "site prep," but the intake/jail portion of the project would be a separate building.

Big Al's picture

Thank you Rikki.

Thank you Rikki.

fischbobber's picture

Dog in the Hunt

With Sea Ray folding up the tent, it would seem to me that Pickel Island makes sense as a jail site.

I really don't have a dog in the hunt though, beyond the fact that I'm going to live here the rest of my life.

Stan G's picture

Bizgrrl, The Gay Street

Bizgrrl, The Gay Street Bridge is probably the best connection from downtown, but it is not readily accessible from the Neyland Greenway, whereas the South Knoxville Bridge is via the James White Greenway.

To agree with Fischbobber, the south end of the Gay Street Bridge would not be a problem for an experienced commuter who takes control of traffic lanes, but for recreational cyclists who bike the pedestrian walk turning traffic can be a hazard.

Fischbobber, I've been told on good authority that there is a problem connecting the greenways via the South Knoxville Bridge. Let me hazard the guess that being a limited access highway, bicycles are not permitted on the bridge, at least not officially. I've used it and will continue to use it until I have to pay a ticket. One day, perhaps, they will hang a pedestrian/bike lane on the side of the bridge as they have done on the Buck Karns Bridge.

When complete, the greenway along Suttree Landing, I expect, will eliminate cycling through the intersection of Sevier Ave and Inland Home.

fischbobber's picture

One would think

Seeing as how there are two extra lanes of space on the bridge in either direction, that once the Henley Street Bridge project was complete, reconfiguring a bike lane onto the South Knoxville bridge would be a simple matter. Apparently not.

How odd and ironic that the infrastructure is complete and in place, and the problem is simply that we're not allowed to use it. It almost makes one wonder how anything gets done in this town.

On a happy note, the proposed pedestrian bridge will also connect the greenways. Of course, the likelihood of me having died of old age by the time this happens is pretty high.

Rachel's picture

Bikes are permitted on the

Bikes are permitted on the JWP bridge. They aren't permitted on the JWP on either side of the bridge.

Also, TDOT promised YEARS ago to stripe bike lanes on the bridge. See if you can get them to do it; apparently nobody else can.

fischbobber's picture

Striped Bike Lanes

I'll bet Rogero and Burchette working together could get it done in short order.

There would still be a need for rest rooms and water fountains at both ends of the bridge though.

Stan G's picture

Rachel, Thanks for the update

Rachel, Thanks for the update regarding the South Knoxville Bridge. I flipped my greenway map and discovered a future connection across the bridge is included in the First Creek Greenway Plan.

As far as getting it striped, I suspect Victor Ashe would suggest contacting Sen. Duncan and Rep. Armstrong.

Rachel's picture

Exactly what are we talking

Exactly what are we talking about here? The first references were to a new intake center, and the more recent ones to the proposed "safety center."

Those are not the same things.

Fabricant's picture

Obviously, we are talking

Obviously, we are talking about the JWP extension.

bizgrrl's picture

KNS reports on JWP extension

"Any of the three routes run within 50 feet of the amphitheater," she [Janice Tocher, president of the South Woodlawn Neighborhood Association] said.

This is a proposed amphitheater at South-Doyle Middle School. Guess this means the proposed routes run pretty close to the school. Also, this means the proposed routes run through another high density residential section of South Knoxville.

State officials counted 62-65 homes and two to five businesses displaced by the various extension options. Construction and rights of way would consume 123 acres of South Knoxville forest and 58-66 acres of developed property.

Each route would impact from 10-13 streams, cross seven to nine streams, touch one or two caves, and contact six to nine sinkholes, according to TDOT studies.

How many homes will it affect but not displace?

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