Construction workers repave MLK Boulevard at Miller Plaza on February 22, 2018. (Photo by Carley Slack)

By Logan Garrett, Staff Writer –

On March 5, the Chattanooga Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin construction on East Martin Luther King Boulevard from Georgia Avenue to Central Avenue, and the project is intended to improve roadway conditions and calm traffic.

The construction will consist of repaving the entirety of that section of MLK Blvd., reconstructing the roadway beneath the current pavement and transitioning from four lanes to three lanes and two bike lanes.

As of right now, there are two lanes going in each direction on MLK Blvd., but after the lane reconfiguration there will be one lane going each way, a median turn lane and a bike lane on either side.

Reconstruction will be separated into four sections, starting with Georgia Avenue to Lindsay Street, then moving from Lindsay Street to Douglas Street,  Douglas Street to Magnolia Street and ending with Magnolia Street to Central Avenue.

Some businesses on MLK Blvd. are already preparing for the reconstruction and are hopeful that they do not lose business during the complete closure of their sections.

“We slowed down a little bit because of the roadwork on Market and MLK,” said Corrie Hill, the General Manager of Champy’s on MLK. “That was an issue at first, but now I don’t think it stops people from coming here, because if people want the fried chicken, then they’re definitely going to come.”

Hill continued and said that she is grateful that the construction is going to start now instead of the busy summer season.

Champy’s also plans on implementing a bike rack to account for the new business the bike lanes will generate.

CDOT contacted Champy’s and made them aware of the situation, however some other businesses on MLK were not given a notice on the reconstruction.

“Generally when the city has notified us of street closures, they send us an email through the mayor’s office and follow it with a paper notice, but that did not happen this time,” said Elisha Millan, the owner of Grass Roots Chattanooga. “This is a complete shock to me.”

The entire project is estimated to take a total of 45 days, but could be prolonged due to inclement weather or other unexpected circumstances.

Both Ms. Millan and Ms. Hill hope to see the construction finished in the projected 45 day
period, but are skeptical based on the delays to the Miller Park and 11th Street roadwork.

If anyone would like to learn more about the specifics of the reconstruction, they should visit https://connect.chattanooga.gov/mlkblvd/ or call CDOT at 423-643-5950.

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