Knoxville may apply for a grant to create uninterrupted bicycle and pedestrian facilities connecting downtown to the Urban Wilderness.
City Council members voted unanimously Jan. 24 to authorize the mayor to apply for a $1 million Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure grant.
The proposed project would extend and connect the Cottrell Greenway to the bike lanes and sidewalks on Sevier Avenue.
The Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure (BICI) is a competitive grant program and an initiative to fund “ambitious cycling infrastructure projects” by providing grants of $400,000-$1 million.
Table of Contents
Putting cyclists first
“The grand vision is you could ride from South Knox along Cottrell across James White Parkway into Morningside Park and into downtown,” said 1st District Councilman Tommy Smith.
“It will connect to the streetscape along Sevier Avenue and send you over the river.”
Smith stressed that there would be no reduction in the number of James White Parkway lanes. “It will remain a four-lane bridge, but there is enough room on the shoulder for a dedicated, separate bike lane,” he said.
According to the application, the BICI is designed primarily for cities with more than 100,000 residents, to reimagine infrastructure, to reclaim and repurpose existing space or create facilities to put cyclists first.
The grant application was requested by the Department of Engineering. The project must be completed by March 2026, and the grant does not require a city match.
South Knox Open House
The City of Knoxville is hosting a South Knoxville Community Open House 4-6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at the Kerbela Temple, 315 Mimosa Ave. Projects that will be addressed will include the Sevier Avenue streetscapes, which will begin construction this year; South Waterfront Form-Based Code; progress on the Urban Wilderness Gateway Park and a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Tennessee River.
“It will be an open forum where people can move throughout the space,” said Smith. “There will be different stations that outline the history of the South Waterfront, what public and private investments have been made and what the next chapter looks like.”
Smith hopes for a “melting pot” of conversations between long-term and new residents.
“It is just good when you have such a grand vision, to take a pause and show how it’s going,” he said. “See what we have achieved, what has evolved that we didn’t plan for and what is left to achieve in the next few decades from the original vision.”
Smith pointed out that the South Waterfront Form-Based Code comprises zoning codes that apply to Cumberland Avenue and the waterfront and nowhere else in the city.
Talk of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Tennessee River has “bubbled up to the surface again,” Smith said. Information about the bridge plans and its location will be available to view at the open house.
“It is a South Knoxville idea and was part of the South Waterfront plan, and UT is finally ready for their end of the bridge,” said Smith, indicating that the north side of the bridge will likely land close to Thompson-Boling Arena.
“There is still a lot to be realized; we are by no means finished. The best thing to do is open the door for a lot of people to show up and weigh in.”
Local businesses and organizations will also set up tables at the open house to meet with residents and community stakeholders.
“I love this opportunity to engage and share about multiple topics, not just with people in South Knoxville, but across Knoxville,” said Rebekah Jane Justice, deputy chief of Economic and Community Development. “Our theme is connectivity and how we continue to improve vehicular corridors with complete streets, greenways, and parks that link to multiuse and multi-family living areas.”
Justice said there is much to talk about. “There is a natural ebb and flow of development interests and housing needs,” she said. “We have a lot of opportunities right now to have some great partners and to continue to make Knoxville unique and achieve those goals.”
Improvement of the South Waterfront, and having a walkable mixed-use, unique city is not only valuable for South Knoxville residents but all of Knoxville, added Justice.
Visit https://www.knoxvilletn.gov/calendar for more information.