Changes to timeline, costs to keep Cumberland Avenue project mov

Changes to timeline, costs to keep Cumberland Avenue project moving forward

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It's costing more for the City of Knoxville to keep the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project moving forward. It's costing more for the City of Knoxville to keep the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project moving forward.
The project been in in the planning and discussion phase for years and construction was supposed to get underway this month, but no one submitted a bid when they were due this spring. The project been in in the planning and discussion phase for years and construction was supposed to get underway this month, but no one submitted a bid when they were due this spring.
The project brings both a sense of excitement and apprehension for business owners on the UT Strip. The project brings both a sense of excitement and apprehension for business owners on the UT Strip.
By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's costing more for the City of Knoxville to keep the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project moving forward.

The project been in in the planning and discussion phase for years and construction was supposed to get underway this month, but no one submitted a bid when they were due this spring. 

Previous story: Plan to revamp Cumberland Avenue draws no bids

Now project manager Anne Wallace says they are making some changes.

“This time around were hoping to put both Phase 1 and Phase 2 out [in September] as long as we can complete our right of way requirements for Phase 2. As well as extending the construction timeline from six months to eight months,” explained Wallace.

A big part of the plan is what's dubbed a road diet, reducing Cumberland Avenue from four lanes to three between 22nd Street and just east of 17th Street. It would make more room for wider sidewalks and improved pedestrian spaces. 

Previous story: Cumberland Avenue overhaul work could begin this summer

The project brings both a sense of excitement and apprehension for business owners on the UT Strip.

“They’ve been needing to update this area for a while, it’s so congested but the whole getting there is probably going to be an issue,” said Stephanie Holden who works at Sunspot.

Sunspot will sit right at the edge of Phase 1, and they're looking forward to the final product.

“I know during school sessions, people avoid the strip because it’s hard to get down here. More foot traffic would obviously be better for us,” said Holden.

Wallace says it was disappointing when no one submitted a bid in the spring.

“From the very beginning of this project, we were looking at balancing a lot of competing issues. That has been true from day one until today. We didn’t expect this to happen, but it does provide some benefit,” said Wallace.

One benefit is that construction will not take place during football season. Phase 1 is expected to being in December or January with an eight month timeline. Phase 2 will start in December 2015 with a 22 month timeline.

That extended timeline means additional costs.

“The total budget is estimated at $17 million. We will see some nominal increases for the design contract, as well as the construction engineering contact,” said Wallace.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, they are requesting a change order to the contracts, asking for an increase in contract price with Vaughn & Melton due to a change in scope of the project.

It’s an increase of a little more than $200,000 for both phases, but Wallace says it’s still within budget.

"The overall budget has been increased due to changes in scope, time, unforeseen delays, and other factors; the change orders [Tuesday] would be within the amended overall budget and do not change the overall value of the project as it currently has been budgeted. The 2007 numbers were an estimate, the overall project is now at $17 million; 80 percent is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration through TDOT and the city is matching with 20 percent,” said Wallace.

In 2007 the project was estimated at $11 million.

Businesses like Sunspot are thinking about their bottom line and hope the months of construction won't hurt it.

“We’re dreading it so much,” said Holden in reference to the eight months of construction. “It’s already hard to get down here so that added stress for people is just going to be terrible I think.”

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