Knox County engineering project is suspect

Sandra ClarkGibbs/Corryton, Our Town Outdoors

Oh, my. You’ve heard it said that no good deed goes unpunished. That fate befell Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Richie Beeler, the county commission chair, this week.

The topic: Walkability in Gibbs, especially around the three schools and the major intersection of Tazewell Pike and Emory Road.

The video: Political theater was posted on the Knox County website. Watch it here.

The project: “What we’re doing is building pedestrian facilities at all corners to where kids can safely access any corner they want and do so in a lot more efficient manner,” said Knox County Engineering and Public Works Senior Director Jim Snowden. Say what?

The project in English: Knox County is paving four corners of the intersection with handicap accessibility and buttons to trigger the traffic light.

But why? Only two (of eight possible) approaches to the corners have a sidewalk. A sidewalk runs on the west side of Tazewell Pike from the intersection to the entrance to Gibbs Elementary School. Catty-cornered, a short sidewalk is in front of the new Weigel’s store.

Beeler was on-site as county workers poured and smoothed concrete. He called the project “a major initiative for one of the busiest thoroughfares in the county.

“The new sidewalks and additional push button technology will allow pedestrians to cross carefully while stopping road traffic,” Beeler said. “It’s all part of making the area safer for families.”

Comments on social media were brutal. (I’m withholding names because Corryton Connection is a private group):

“So now I can walk from Exxon to Walgreens. Yay,” said one.

“I don’t like PR stunts that make it appear as if (Jacobs and Beeler) came up with all this on their own and just happened to give all this stuff to us. No, there were multiple meetings (Gibbs Planning Alliance and Gibbs High Foundation) and for none of that to be mentioned is disappointing. There’s a lot of effort and time citizens have put in and it should be recognized.”

Another wrote: “Wouldn’t expect anything else … Some politicians like taking credit for things whether they did the work or not.”

“Oh, wow. A sidewalk that goes nowhere. That’s great.”

“Politicians are the best at taking credit and cutting ribbons (smiley face)”

“Being honest, while good, I ain’t sure it was actually needed.”

Next writer: “I’m not sure why any 8- to 10-foot section of sidewalk is needed?”

Question: “Does this sidewalk go all the way to one or both of the subdivisions, Fort Reynolds or Nicholas Landing?”

Answer: “Nope, unfortunately they only approved the extensions for the crossings for now, but that was better than what we had before so we will take what we can get.”

“Is this the same Mayor that destroyed the Health Department and refused to discuss a fire tax that would have covered fire protection for every Knox County resident? If you do not subscribe to Rural Metro your out-of-pocket expense is around $1,500 an hour per truck and they usually send 5 or 6 trucks for a working fire.”

 

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