Third Creek Greenway may link northwest neighborhoods

Kelly NorrellAround Town, Inside 640

Congested northwest Knoxville roads, look out!

A proposed new expansion of the Third Creek Greenway may soon extend through the area enclosed by Middlebrook Pike and Western Avenue. It would link the area, which is south of Middlebrook Pike, to a soon-to-be completed pedestrian bridge and greenway north of Middlebrook to run all the way to Victor Ashe Park.

Residents of these northwest Knoxville neighborhoods would get a scenic place for recreation and an alternative to busy streets. Children in schools like Pleasant Ridge Elementary, West Haven Elementary, Norwood Elementary and Northwest Middle School would have another place to walk and ride their bicycles.

That is the plan behind a grant request that City Parks and Recreation will submit to the Tennessee Department of Transportation in early October, said Tim Hester, Knoxville parks and greenways coordinator. He said awards from the federally funded Alternative Transportation Grants, which would fund this project if approved, are usually awarded in the spring.

If approved, construction of the proposed 1.4 mile greenway would take four or five years to complete and cost about $3.4 million, with the grant paying about 80 percent and the city of Knoxville the rest. It would likely run alongside Third Creek Road in an area that is surrounded by small neighborhoods and some industry.

A link between this new section and the original, 5.3 mile Third Creek Greenway now coursing through Bearden may be built sometime in the future.

Hester said the pedestrian bridge over Middlebrook Pike is scheduled to be finished this spring, and the north-of-Middlebrook greenway extension connecting it to Victor Ashe Park next summer.

City greenways help residents to stay active, allowing them to walk and ride bicycles instead of driving. Greenways reduce pollution from vehicle emissions, and help cut vehicle congestion on roads. Knoxville has about 112 miles of paved greenways and trails.

“Some people think our greenway corridors are just for recreation. But if you see them around 8 a.m. or 5 p.m., you see people going to and from work on them,” Hester said.

“With this expansion, we want to take the advantage TDOT is providing and connect to their bridge and the northern greenway to Victor Ashe Park. Our overall plan is to connect all existing greenways and parks to one another,” he said.

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