KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Mayor Madeline Rogero and Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis announced a $20,000 grant Thursday to help marketing and promotion efforts for South Knoxville businesses that have been affected by the extended closure of the Henley Bridge.
The City is also putting up eight temporary signs along major highways north of the river, directing traffic to the Chapman Highway Business District.
Mayor Rogero invited Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to match the City’s grant, and he has pledged that Knox County will also contribute $20,000 to the marketing and promotions effort.
The City and County funds will be directed through the nonprofit Legacy Parks Foundation, which will serve as the fiscal agent and work with South Knoxville businesses to develop a marketing plan and identify promotional possibilities during the coming year.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced last month that the reconstruction of the Henley Bridge will take longer than anticipated, and the bridge is expected to remain closed through February 2014.
“The bridge closure has been very hard on South Knoxville merchants, particularly those closest to the river,” said Mayor Rogero. “I live in South Knoxville, and I can see the impact. As soon as we heard the extended construction schedule from the state, we started working on ways we can help promote the area and make sure people in other parts of the city know what’s here and how to get here.”
Merchants have expressed to City officials the need for assistance with marketing and better road signs to help detoured traffic reach Chapman Highway.
TDOT agreed to a City request to post the eight temporary signs, which will go up over the next few days along major arteries including James White Parkway, Henley Street, Gay Street and Cumberland Avenue. In addition, City officials are meeting Friday with TDOT officials to discuss traffic flow at the Chapman Highway interchange with Moody Avenue.
“We want to be sure we’re helping merchants now, and also for the future,” said Pavlis, who represents South Knoxville on City Council. “By investing in marketing and promotions, we’re going to address both short-term and long-term needs for South Knoxville businesses.”
The City grant will be presented to City Council for approval at its next regular meeting, on March 19th.