Celebration with citizens, local brass

Biking, walking ‘underneath’ with Northshore Pedestrian Safety Phase 3

With completion of Phase 3 of the Northshore Drive Pedestrian Safety Project, walkers and bike riders along the Concord Park Greenway are now enjoying a safer way to cross Northshore Drive — by traveling underneath it.

Construction of the new “floating boardwalk” under both the “old fishing bridge” and parallel “new” Northshore Drive bridge was completed earlier this year, and officially unveiled Wednesday, March 1, with a ribbon-cutting celebrating the milestone with Knox County and Farragut leaders present.

An oversized asphalt walkway, with fencing alongside, leads down along both sides of Northshore, then features sturdy plankboard under both bridges.

“I’m very glad to see this,” said Mindy Wise of Farragut, who used the new walkway alongside her friend, Sarah McIsaac, just prior to the ceremony.

“I was so excited about it,” added Lucie Olen, who lives in Historic Concord. “My husband and I both love greenways, and there was no other way we had to cross Concord (Road) or Northshore until the recent construction.

“This has been the best thing ever.”

The project also had the approval of Carly Pearson, Knox County ADA coordinator.

“They did an excellent job with what little bit of terrain they had to work with,” she said. “It is so much safer, and offers better access for everyone.

“It is much improved.”

The project was the idea, and has been led by, Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay (At Large, Seat 11), who had the idea about five years ago when he witnessed a family attempting to cross Northshore to access The Cove at Concord Park.

“It was terrifying to see this family attempt to play real life ‘frogger,’” he recalled.

The experience led to several conversations among neighborhoods, as plans came together for the project.

Since that time, Phase 1, the Callaway Ridge Trailhead and Parking area ($15,000), was opened in May 2021; Phase 2, the Concord Park Greenway and Improvements ($287,260), opened in December 2021; and, most recently, the Concord Park Boardwalk ($828,769).

“I want to give great kudos to the (Knox County) Parks & Rec team,” Jay said. “It is a great example of how Knox County works for you.”

Knox County Park & Rec director Joe Mack credited Jay with “passionately ensuring” the project was “at the top of everyone’s priority list.”

Additionally, “I cannot stress to you how fortunate we are to have a Mayor (Glenn Jacobs), who has among his top three priorities parks and recreation,” Mack added. “We just wrapped up our parks master plan, and extending greenways, adding more greenways, is right in line with regards to our future plans.”

The fourth and final phase of the Northshore Pedestrian Project will be to connect The Cove at Concord Park to the Choto Road roundabout, with a preliminary cost estimate of $811k. That includes construction of a new greenway with ADA compliant upgrades.

The project design is complete and funding has been secured, but right-of-way acquisition and bidding has yet to take place.