Does Knoxville’s Bus Transfer Terminal Leave Room for Growth?

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Knoxville has all but closed the deal on a site to build a new city bus transfer terminal.

But as Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd found out, questions remain over the price, the place, and the process.

All bus routes lead to Main, and close encounters with the government and courthouse crowds?

Maybe not for very much longer!

“We've looked at 34 sites in the downtown area, and this is the best site that we've found,” says Jeff Gaylon, from the Public Building Authority.

One and a half acres on the East Side of the Church Avenue viaduct for a $27 million transfer terminal that can handle 20 buses at once.

Getting American Accessories to give in and get out? $1.85 million.

“The next time the city wants to buy a piece of property, they've kind of set the bar on what they're willing to pay, if they want to be somewhere,” says commercial real estate specialist Roger Moore.

Location, commercial real estate broker Roger Moore says, could well make the dollars make sense, especially when the Public Building Authority professes: “This comes as close as anything to meet KAT's needs,” as Gaylon put it.

February's devastating fire had put the McClung warehouse site in a new light.

“We were looking at possibly having to cantilever over the railroad area, plus there were gonna be five businesses, five property owners affected,” explains Gaylon.

Believe it or not, the Depot site posed bigger problems, seven property owners affected. But some believe, we need to look beyond the bus.

This is money the fellow taxpayers have paid. We're spending that on something that's a good project, in theory, but is it as good as it needs to be?” City Council Member Joe Hultquist believes the Church Avenue site buys no room to grow.

“Whether it's passenger rail, or commuter rail, or rail transit,” Hultquist says, “When there's no potential for intermodal service, all you'll have is a bus faculty.”

“A bus facility is not related, necessarily to rail. Typically those are connected with a trolley, that's the way Nashville's system is set up,” Gaylon argues.

Galyon says a Church Avenue terminal could serve Knoxville well for 20-30 years.

“Can we live with it for awhile longer, we can if we have to,” Hultquist says.

Hultquist wants to study it another six months.

The Public Building Authority says, that bus has all but left the station.

“Basically, there's no show stoppers in it,” says Gaylon.

American Accessories can stay in its church avenue facility through the end of the year.

Owner Eric Zeaneh and his workers had opposed any plan that would have forced them to move.

But Zeaneh hasn't returned our phone calls seeking comment.


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