Road project will bring jobs to North Knoxville

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders

Work starts this week on a $5.5 million road project that will open up underused land for commercial development along I-275 in North Knoxville.

Interstate visibility is prized by businesses like Sysco and Holston Gases. Both have built modern plants along I-275 – Holston Gases on the site of the old Brookside Mills at Baxter Avenue, and food distributor Sysco on a portion of the former Norfolk Southern rail yard, the Coster shop, in 2007.

Vacant land remains along I-275, but it lacks easy access, especially for commercial trucks to service the businesses.

Redevelopment has involved the last three mayors. Bill Haslam led city efforts to buy and clean up the rail yard. He helped recruit Sysco. Madeline Rogero redeveloped the retail district on Central Street. Her administration contracted for the preliminary assessment of the I-275 Business Park build-out, secured the federal grant and acquired right-of-way. Indya Kincannon will preside over the road improvements and then encourage businesses to locate there.

Jones Brothers, a Mt. Juliet-based road construction company, has the contract.

Here is the plan: I275_Improvements_Design and the specifics:

  • 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.
  • Marion realignment from Dameron Avenue to Baxter Avenue, and minor intersection improvements at Fifth Avenue and Blackstock; Marion Street and Bernard; and Marion Street and Baxter.

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.

“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,” said Stephanie Welch, Kincannon’s deputy for economic and community development.

The city is investing just over $1 million to draw over $4 million in federal funding. Work should be finished by December 2021.

The preliminary assessment of the area was completed in 2016. This link includes that report with several maps and pictures of the area to be improved.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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