Drivers dodge water main repair site during busy downtown weekend

Downtown Knoxville buzzed with people Saturday, as hundreds showed up for a day packed with events.

Which is why Wednesday night's water main break wasn't welcome news for Dogwood Arts.

"We woke up that morning and all kinda had an internal panic," marketing manager Erin Slocum says.

Fortunately, because of its location, the break didn't interrupt any of the events. But for a few drivers it was frustrating trying to get downtown.

"Normally we do come in this way and come in the top side. But we decided we'd come in through State Street instead," Leslie Burger says.

"We came in Kingston Pike to Neyland, and then came up over there somewhere," Galen Brooks says.

The intersection of Main Street and State Street is still closed while workers repair an 18-inch water main break -- a pipe that was 87 years old.

Chris Cox, civil & environmental engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, says the aging infrastructure is a growing problem.

"If we don't take proactive action, these kinds of events will become increasingly more common, where the infrastructural fails catastrophically," he says.

KUB has a program to replace aging pipes, called Century II. But they only replace 1 percent of the pipes per year.

As for replacing the broken pipe downtown -- KUB hopes to finish in the next few days.

But Rhythm and Bloom organizers aren't about to let a water main repair rain on their party.

"The vibe that it brings. Knoxville is such a cool city, and I think that the musical heritage here, sometimes people forget that. So we're just trying to highlight that," Slocum says.

Dogwood Arts says there are even visitors from overseas at the festival. A few Rhythm and Bloom tickets were sold in Great Britain and Ireland.


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