An underused commercial corridor is about to get a major overhaul that, when completed, will encourage new business investment and create jobs.
The City is investing almost $5.5 million in local and federal funds in the Interstate 275 Business Park Access Improvements Project.
Crews with Jones Brother Contractors will build a 1,100-foot-long extension of Blackstock Avenue, connecting West Fifth Avenue and Bernard Avenue. A 1,600-foot-long section of Marion Street between Bernard and Baxter avenues will be improved, along with a 650-foot-long section of Baxter, between I-275 and the railroad tracks by Second Creek.
The new section of Blackstock and the upgraded Marion will feature two 11-foot-wide lanes, curb and gutter, 5-foot-wide sidewalks and a 10-foot multipurpose trail from West Fifth Avenue to Bernard Avenue. Marion is being realigned from Dameron Avenue to Baxter Avenue.
There also will be minor improvements to the intersections of Fifth Avenue and Blackstock Avenue; Marion Street and Bernard Avenue, and Marion Street and Baxter Avenue.
“This corridor has vacant tracts and is strategically located next to an interstate, but it’s underdeveloped right now, in part because of the poor street connectivity,” said Chief Economic and Community Development Officer Stephanie Welch.
“The street pattern isn’t conducive to through traffic, and it’s currently difficult for commercial trucks to get in and out to service a manufacturer or a warehouse.
“But by putting in modern street infrastructure, the City is opening up this entire corridor. The goal is to help bring underused properties back into full use, which ultimately creates jobs and builds community prosperity.”
Work is slated to begin on Monday, July 6, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. No immediate road closures are expected.
Preliminarily, the City has coordinated with Knoxville Utilities Board and with other utility partners in relocating poles, electricity transmission, and water, sewer and gas services.
A little more than $1 million in City tax dollars is committed to the Interstate 275 Business Park Access Improvements Project. A federal grant is funding 80 percent of the project.