Gatlinburg recently gave itself a makeover and the results are eye-popping. What’s being alluded to is Phase VI of the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project which recently completed, thus burying all utility lines in the downtown Gatlinburg area. What were some travel inconveniences are now looking well worth it.
From the Gatlinburg Convention Center to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundary, what you’ll see are some aesthetic upgrades to the Parkway – new streetlights, sidewalks, and all lacking the clutter of utility lines and utility poles.
“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the business community on the South end of town as well as our residents and visitors,” said Cindy Cameron Ogle, Gatlinburg city manager. “It has been a long, challenging undertaking which has required some sacrifices, a good bit of tolerance and a lot of faith, but I believe everyone can agree that the change in the look and feel of the entire project area is quite dramatic.”
It’s a construction process that began in mid-August 2011 and ran 1,850 feet in length through downtown. It was a rather expansive process that included the construction of underground duct banks to house electrical, telephone and cable lines running both sides of Parkway. The project also called for sewer and water improvements.
The Parkway and Leconte Street steel bridge replacement was one of the more challenging aspects of Phase VI. Part of it also included widening the turning radius from Parkway to Leconte Street.
Those of you who will be coming to Gatlinburg this fall will notice new street lighting, trash receptacles, benches, and signage. Sidewalks have been added and planters have been strategically placed to accommodate seasonal plantings and small trees.
Including design engineering and construction costs of Phase VI, which totaled $7.8 million, both the city and the business community have now invested approximately $24 million in the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project. This dates back to the late 1990s with the development of the original master plan and the Riverwalk/Ripley’s Aquarium area.
The Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project was a joint effort of the City, the design firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., the contractor Efficient Electric, and local utilities involved in the undertaking.
Property owners in the Phase VI area will be assessed 20 percent of the cost, approximately $1.52 million, which may be paid over a 15 year timeframe or on a lump-sum basis.