By Justin Metcalf, Staff Writer —
Construction on Oak Street and Vine Street near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is set to be completed by Sept. 9.
New features to both streets include trees, shrubbery, lighting, brick repair, benches, trash receptacles and improved access. According to UTC’s construction projects website, a vehicle turnaround will also be installed to enhance pedestrian safety on both streets. Since Sept. of 2018, construction on these streets resulted in closed sidewalks and alternative routes for students and faculty on campus.
“The construction made me nervous about getting to class on time,” said Connor Coward, a sophomore psychology major. “I live in the Johnson Obear apartments, and they’re next to all the construction, so it was troubling trying to get to my classes because I had to wrap around entire parts of campus.”
Danny West, construction services manager, said part of the plan was to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which regulates the standards required for these construction projects. West and his team also wanted to address stormwater management and the overall beautification of both streets, he said.
“I’m most excited for the new trees and garden plots,” said Coward. “They’re going to make everything more aesthetically pleasing.”
West said some challenges resulting in delays during construction were “an improperly installed gas company main on Vine Street, coordination with Tennessee American Water for an unexpected main replacement and discovering abandoned trolley rail lines on Oak Street.”
Kenny Tyler, director of engineering and planning services, started working with the design team on this project about two and a half years ago when he joined at UTC.
“We don’t always know the schedule of these things,” said Tyler. “Things come up, so the schedule changes. Design lasts longer than people think. It started even before I was here, so it’s been in the works for at least three years now.”