As the summer heat sets in, more visitors make their way to local quarries to cool off.
If some people haven’t been to Fort Dickerson’s Augusta Quarry since last summer, they might think it’s closed as they approach the entrance.
Despite on-going construction at the quarry’s main entrance, the swimming hole remains open to the public, but officials urged visitors to use an alternate route.
Rebekah Jane Montgomery, Urban Wilderness coordinator for the city of Knoxville, said the main entrance to the quarry off of Augusta Avenue is closed while crews work to improve it.
“We are really just improving it to make it a proper park so everyone feels safe and the accessibility meets everyone’s needs,” Montgomery said.
Improvements include a more aesthetic entrance, replacing the existing gravel lot with curbs and paving, and adding hardscapes and greenery at the entrance and parking lot.
During the construction, visitors are asked to use the Fort Dickerson park entrance off of Chapman Highway.
Signs are posted throughout the construction area warning residents to not enter and use to alternate trail.
“As you can see, there’s a lot of activity with machinery and people working on the final details of the park. So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay outside of the project limits while those final details are being executed.” Montgomery said.
The current construction is a part of Phase I, Montgomery said. Phase I improvement plans also include adding infrastructure, such as utilities, for future phases.
“In the future, we’ll work on Phase II and other phases to improve and add other amenities like restrooms, possibly vendors for kayaks and paddle boards, improve picnic areas and landscaping,” Montgomery said.
She said that the park isn’t completely wheelchair accessible, but adding more accessibility is also planned.
According to the city’s website, the quarry improvement project was largely made possible through an investment from the Aslan Foundation, which paid for the design and planning work of the project as well as $330,000 toward its construction.
The preliminary cost of the improvement project is $1.77 million.
Phase I was initially expected to be completed before the summer, but Montgomery said that many rainy days delayed construction.
She said the entrance is now expected to reopen in late July or early August.