On the evening of Tuesday, June 4, a public meeting was held at Tasos Steakhouse for members of the community who were interested in discussing and learning more about Phase II of the Streetscape project that is being conducted on the Knoxville square. Engineers Greg Roth and John Micka were present with a map of the downtown area to show where the next construction will be done, and a pictoral chart to give attendees an idea of what some of the downtown improvements will look like.
There is a $3 million budget for Phase II of the Streetscape project. Phase II construction will include the four blocks around the Marion County Courthouse, as well as Robinson Street between First and Second Streets. The construction will include a storm outlet to improve drainage during and after the project. Underground utility work will take place as well.
The lighting around the square will also be switched over to LED lighting, which will use a lower amount of energy and still illuminate as well as the current lighting. Benefits of the new lights include rebates from MidAmerican Energy and they have three times the life of the current lighting.
The streets will be repaved with two or three shades of clay paving. The colors of the new pavement will correspond with the coloring of the Courthouse brick. Micka expressed to those in attendance that the advantage of clay paving, over brick paving, is that it will keep its color over time instead of fading from sun exposure, as colored concrete would.
Of the plans presented at the meeting, the aspect that was the most widely discussed was the narrowing of the streets on the square. The streets will be narrowed to a 60-foot width with angle parking.
Many of the Knoxville residents in attendance expressed concern with this. The main concerns were that the narrowed street width will increase downtown congestion for drivers, especially factoring in truck deliveries, and that downtown parking spaces will decrease.