City of Knoxville Cumberland Avenue Corridor Update
Cumberland Avenue Construction to be Rebid; City Remains '100 Percent Committed' to Corridor Project
City of Knoxville officials will be rebidding the contract for construction of the comprehensive Cumberland Avenue street redesign project, which will push the start of construction back from early 2015 to summer 2015.
Only one company had submitted a bid to perform the work, and that bid came in higher than budgeted. City consultants had estimated the construction work at about $11 million, and the sole bid was for more than $25 million. So the project will go out for rebid early next year after several elements of the bid package have been reworked.
City officials remain committed to doing the major traffic-flow redesign and utility upgrade along Cumberland Avenue, even though it appears that the project will wind up being costlier than first anticipated. Additional funding sources will be identified during the rebid process as well.
"The Cumberland Avenue Corridor project is a very complicated urban road project, and we knew it would present a number of challenges," said Bob Whetsel, the City's Director of Redevelopment.
"But we are 100 percent committed to this project, which has already helped spur more than $200 million in investment by private redevelopers. We've pledged to partner with residents and merchants in the Corridor by doing our part and modernizing the infrastructure, and we intend to follow through with what's really a once-in-a-century major overhaul."
The Cumberland Avenue project still will be done in two phases.
Phase I of the Cumberland Avenue project will ease traffic clogs on the western end of the corridor, the stretch of Cumberland Avenue between 22nd Street and Alcoa Highway.
Phase I improvements - especially the smoother-flowing intersections at Volunteer Boulevard and at Alcoa Highway - will give motorists more options for avoiding the Phase II construction work, said Project Manager Anne Wallace with the City's Office of Redevelopment.
Phase II calls for a redesign of Cumberland Avenue from 22nd Street to 16th Street. Both phases of work include new underground utilities, new signals, new sidewalks, the addition of turn lanes and new medians, plus landscaping, benches and pedestrian-scaled lighting.
Work will include putting in new underground stormwater, water, sewer and gas lines to replace antiquated lines and to support new commercial and residential developments in the area. The project also will add and widen sidewalks, resurface the road and purchase new, higher-performing traffic signals.
"We realize there will be inconveniences, and business owners will want the upgrades to be done as quickly as possible," Whetsel said. "We want the same thing. But the fact is, much of the utility infrastructure in this area predates World War II. Just last month, a stormwater pipe beneath Cumberland collapsed. It is time for these critical improvements to be made.
"At the same time, we recognize the need to increase utility capacity to support the hundreds of new apartment units and retail outlets that are infusing new energy into the Cumberland Avenue Corridor.
"We'll be creative and responsive in working with the University of Tennessee, merchants and stakeholders once work gets under way."