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Month-long construction project underway in downtown Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A stretch of one of downtown Knoxville's busiest streets is temporarily shut down, as crews work to upgrade crosswalks along South Gay Street.

The city is in the process of replacing eight crosswalks downtown that have deteriorated over time.

The $182,000 project got underway this week and is scheduled to wrap up Aug. 17, not an ideal time for businesses in the busy summer months.

Nolan Sherrill owns The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain, a local pharmacy and ice cream store downtown. He said while the construction is a bit inconvenient, he does not expect it to affect business, because the sidewalks will continue to remain open.

"As a business owner it concerns me, but this is summer and we do have a lot of families and there is a ton of walking traffic downtown,"
Sherrill said.
"Our delivery drivers are having a little bit of a hard time figuring out where to go but I think they'll figure that out pretty quickly."

Brittany Gibbons, assistant manager of Downtown Grill and Brewery, also doubts the renovations will draw people away from downtown.

"We have a lot of foot traffic so I feel like people are walking around any how,"
Gibbons said.
"Not a lot of people get to park in front of the building, so I feel like the construction isn't going to effect us."

The month-long project aims to swap the brick crosswalks with stamped colored concrete. Once its complete, Sherrill said it should only enhance the area and hopefully attract even more people to Gay Street.

"Most of what the city has done so far has been about growth,"
Sherrill said.
"So I expect downtown to continue to grow and continue to be vibrant and if this is something we need to do right now, then I'd much rather be doing it now than be doing it three years from now when there are many, many more businesses on this street."

Phase one of the project will impact intersections along Gay Street at Union and Wall Avenues and Summit Hill Drive.