Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I - I - I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone

But it is your downtown sidewalk I'd like to talk a bit about today. I'd planned to do a piece about the bizarre tapestry of surfaces that comprises the downtown sidewalks, but I'll put that off for another time. For now, there are a couple of sidewalk projects that are worth noting. Both were planned and are being executed together. The original plans are here for work to be completed on the south end of Market Street between Church and Cumberland and the project on Union between Market Square and Gay Street.
Sidewalk work on Market Street
As you can see, work has already begun on both projects. According to the site, the work was expected to be finished this winter, but it just started on Union and neither site looks near completion. The detailed plans are available on the link above, but the existing projects don't seem to match the plans, as far as I can tell. In the case of Market Street, the entire street has been removed, which I didn't understand was to happen. The sidewalks in that location are brick, so I'm assuming and hoping they carry that on out to the street.

Cordoned off section of Union in front of Coffee and Chocolate and Rala
In the case of the Union Street project, it appears from the plans that parking along the northern side of the street would still be accepted. Looking at the physical reality on the street, this doesn't look possible. If the portion of that street which has been excavated is intended for a wider sidewalk, as I believe is the case, then I don't see how cars can park on the street and also pass through. It was barely wide enough for that to begin with.

I'm particularly happy about the widened sidewalk on Union Street because when the weather is nice, that's where I like to sit and enjoy my coffee. With the sidewalks their current width, people have a difficult time passing the tables as they walk through. The cars parked so close to the tables also undermines the openness of a sidewalk table in impedes the view.

Union Avenue project viewed from the eastern (Gay Street) end
My first choice would have been for a closure to automobile traffic, but that probably is a dream. At least this should make it more pleasant. I'm also hoping the city will use brick for the sidewalk extension because I think it looks more in keeping with the preservation work that has been done throughout downtown, even though during icy weather it is more treacherous.

Maybe one of my alert viewers who understands architectural renderings or has some inside information on the projects could enlighten us all. Anyone?

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3 Comments:

At February 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM , Blogger Skib said...

I would love to see Union closed off to automobile traffic as well. Just turn it into a pedestrian plaza. The number of people that use that road far out number the amount of vehicles anyway.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM , Anonymous John said...

It looks to me that the portions of the sidewalk on Market that were brick will now be concrete. It appears that a swath or bricks, two feet wide, will be parallel to the street. Interesting but not as cool as the current/old sidewalks IMHO.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:22 PM , Anonymous KnoxvilleUrbanGuy said...

Skib, I agree about 1000 percent.

John, Thanks for the analysis. I hope you are wrong or better thoughts prevail because, I agree about the brick.

 

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