KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The City of Knoxville officially cut the ribbon on the long awaited State Street Parking Garage expansion.
For just over a year, downtown workers, dwellers and visitors have had to deal with lane closures and construction surrounding the intersection of State Street and Union Avenue where the parking garage stands.
The addition brings 240 new parking spaces now with 90 more still to come.
"Hopefully this will encourage even more people to come downtown and enjoy what we have to offer - to visit the restaurants and retail establishments and participate in the great activities we have going on downtown," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
As the downtown has developed, other area lots have been filling up fast, making it hard for people to find spots. While frustrating for drivers, Mayor Rogero says it's not a bad problem to have.
"It means that people want to come downtown," said Rogero. "We have a really vibrant downtown. A lot of activity, people living here, people shopping here, people coming here for fun for dinner for movies and for theater."
The expansion also includes a new covered pedestrian bridge making it much easier for all those people to cross over State Street.
"Previously, you had to go down the steps and across the street, fighting the traffic, and then go up the escalator," said Rogero. "This will actually be a safer way to get from the parking deck over to Gay Street."
The existing foundation was also reinforced so the garage can grow as the need for parking does.
The expansion cost the city an estimated $2.6 million, but that price tag will not affect rates. Parking will still be free on nights and weekends.