Feb 2 2006
11:49 pm

At least 300 people turned out for the unveiling of the plan for the South Knoxville waterfront redevelopment district, which runs along the Tennessee River between Baker Creek and Goose Creek.

The plan features several road reconfigurations, including roundabouts at the foot of the Gay St Bridge and the juncture of Sevier Ave and Island Home Ave.  Sevier is to become a normal two-way street, losing its one-way loop around the lump of rock near Baptist Hospital. It will be widened slightly on the north side to allow for on-street parking, requiring only minor rights-of-way acquisitions. A new road along the edge of the floodplain between the Gay St Bridge and South Knoxville Bridge is proposed.

Another new road is proposed to run from the mouth of Goose Creek across Blount Ave and along the north rim of the quarry, connecting to the road to Fort Dickerson. Also, Augusta Ave and the rail corridor that runs behind the Scottish Pike neighborhood is slated for conversion to a boulevard to serve through traffic between Chapman Hwy and Vestal. Some rerouting of Blount Ave and Scottish Pike looks to threaten the Rinker Materials building.

A riverwalk will run from Goose Creek to the Gay St Bridge, where the natural topology will be morphed into an amphitheater directed toward a marina and a floating stage for concerts. Additional green space is planned along the water upriver toward the South Knoxville Bridge, including an arboretum and possible wetlands.

The plan leaves room for a children's discovery museum and conversion of existing rail lines to light rail. Realization of the plan will take 10 to 20 years. Cost estimates and funding sources are the next phase of planning, and a timeline was presented. The first five years will see reconfiguration of roadways and two development components, the Goose Creek marina and an office park at the foot of the South Knoxville Bridge on land owned by one (or more) of the Conleys.

bizgrrl's picture

I thought Mead's Quarry was

I thought Mead's Quarry was near Ijams Park.

rikki's picture


oops, wrong quarry!

Andy Axel's picture

There's one in Nashville

There's one in Nashville around the Musica statue at the confluence of Division, Demonbreun, and Music Row.

Three years gone, and people still are figuring it out.


If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

Opinari's picture

Actually, Knoxville has a

Actually, Knoxville has a roundabout too. Midpark Drive off Middlebrook Pike has one. I believe it connects to Matlock Drive at that point. I'm fuzzy on the names of the roads, but I could drive right to it!

rikki's picture


Real roundabouts. They've got one in Asheville now, and it seems to be working. That town has far more than its share of bad drivers.

I thought the plan was very impressive. There is a lot of vision and creativity, very little intrusion on residential property (plenty on industrial property), and respect for the character and history of the place. The primary objections came from residents worried about losing their view of the river (Hargreaves had a slide showing the riverfront buildings under the line of sight from Phillips Ave) and from rowers concerned about too much motorized boat traffic. That's a pretty good backdoor endorsement. Check out the links and the flyover video.

Mykhailo's picture

Do you mean roundabouts in

Do you mean roundabouts in terms of proper traffic calming roundabouts

The traffic calming thingys are just little circles in the middle of a low volume road, often retrofitted into an existing roadway -- we had a bunch of them in my neighborhood in Arlington, and they were very effective in slowing down traffic speeds.

A real roundabout (or, as a friend of mine who was obsessed with them used to drop into nearly every conversation we had, "modern" roundabouts), on the other hand, is a fairly elaborate construction, involving flared and deflected entrances, usually with yield signs rather than traffic signals, low speed circulation, and no interweaving of entering and exiting traffic.Or something like that -- I don't remember all of the details. Anyway, I think traffic calming isn't the primary goal, per se, although it is a benefit -- the real value is that they supposedly reduce the number and severity of accidents significantly, and supposedly reduce traffic congestion.

They get a bad rap, but they're nothing like most of the traffic circles in the US -- I went through Dupont Circle a couple times a week for three years, and I never fucking figured that one out.
Even on my first day of driving on the wrong side of the road in England, though, I mastered the system after one go around. And I'm a crappy driver. I'm a huge fan of them -- they really work great. If the city puts them in, hopefully they won't screw them up.

Opinari's picture

From the FAQ on the

From the FAQ on the Riverfront website:

"Knoxville’s City Council appropriated funds to pay for Phase I of the project Mayor Haslam has stated that from this point forward, public dollars will not be used other than to spur investment – including significant private investment – that will increase the city’s tax base. The planning process will be grounded in sound financial and market analysis so there will be a healthy return on any public investments."

Were there discussions at the meeting about financing? If so, what was said? Were there any specifics?

I'm excited about my old neighborhood evolving into something substantial, but I'm still unclear about how a project with such a large scope is going to be funded.

rikki's picture


No specifics on financing. The planners have just finalized the scope of the project and wanted to make it sure it met approval before tackling cost estimates and such. To give you a sense for how fresh the plan is, there is a pedestrian bridge across the river in the flyover video that was scrubbed from the plan and not mentioned in their presentation.

Obviously the city will have to pay for reconfiguration of  roads. The riverwalk and other public facilities on the water will probably require some public funds, but there should be opportunities for private partnerships and philanthropy. Since it's a redevelopment district, various grants and tax incentives are in play, and I think they are hoping that will lure private developers to bid on the various components of the plan. The only Phase I component that is not clearly in the public domain is the office park on the Conley property at the foot of the South Knoxville Bridge.

Rachel's picture

The project has two parts -

The project has two parts - Vision Plan and Action Plan. What we saw last night was the draft Vision Plan; i.e. what we want. The planners will now refine it based on the input/feedback they got the last couple of nights. However, most of the quibbles were minor - an achievement in itself, I think - so I don't expect the final version to change very much.

Then we move on to the Action Plan - how do we make this happen? That will include stuff like regulatory changes and financing options. Look for it in the late spring.

smalc's picture

I noticed the pedestrian

I noticed the pedestrian bridge in the flyover, as well as a cable stayed bridge further downstream. I don't think they get private financing for that. We'll need some Washington pork.

rikki's picture


The planning looks to have been done with a tight budget in mind. While the overall vision is impressive, none of the pieces seem particularly expensive. They have done a good job taking advantage of existing rights-of-way and fitting things to the neighborhoods and topography.

Rachel's picture

Obviously the city will have

Obviously the city will have to pay for reconfiguration of roads.

The City has already received $6M from the Feds to upgrade Blount and Sevier Avenues, so presumably that's a damn good start.

knoxrocks's picture

not to get too excited:

personally i am not going to get to excited. city has still not helped in getting south knoxville blvd connected to anything, and 6 months ago i called about a small city owned park,named meadow circle park. it is in deplorable condition, and even spoke about it with mr. holtzquist and the city parks office......nothing been done to correct anything. maybe more luck in getting an official south knoxville gang color out of our city leaders ?

Rachel's picture

Well, the JWP is a state

Well, the JWP is a state project, and they are about to redo the EIS on it (and good thing, too, since the one they have dates from the 70s).

I hate to be dumb, but where is Meadow Circle Park?

BrockPlasma's picture

Anyone notice

In the 3D images broadcast on TV that Holston Gases were nowhere to be seen. It looked like a row of Condos were depicted where the company is located now.

I just wonder if anyone's ever thought that if Holston Gases were ever to have a major explosion you wouldn't have a parking controversy at the City/County building anymore. Of course you wouldn't have a City/County building either.


Doug McD's picture


Actually, I found the roundabout on the Avenue des Grandes Armees (around the Arc de Triomphe)  a breeze compared to small, cobbled one way streets in smaller towns like Dijon, where a massive Citroen would come through just as you took a wrong turn.

The problem is, Americans can never remember that on roundabouts, those coming onto the roundabout have the right of way, while those already in the roundabout are supposed to yield. Granted, it gets a little exciting around Arc de Triomphe because a) it is still somewhat cobbled, b) it is about 10 lanes wide, and c) there are no lines. But I don't think any Knoxville roundabouts would be quite that ambitious.

Anonymous's picture

the park is off of Taylor

John's picture

South Knox Development

Sounds interesting. They could do some nice things with Sevier and Blount Ave. Personally I would like to the JWP extension scrapped and tie it into Ole Sevierville Pike. Hopefully the new EIS will leave that as only option.

I would like to see the sort of development of Martin Mill, Ole Maryville Pike etc. done along lines of this article.

Page 2 is of particular interest.


With 8 parallel roads already connecting Knoxville with John Sevier I think thats plenty.

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