KNOXVILLE (WATE) – People visiting Cumberland Avenue will notice a dramatic transformation that’s been years in the making.
The $25 million project gives new life to one of Knoxville’s busiest streets, but change did not come easy. The construction took 28 months to complete and business owners along the strip, like Helen Morton of University Liquors, said they are relieved the project has finally come to an end.
“There are not words to express how excited we are,” Morton said. “That goes for all the businesses. There’s still a little sadness hanging over us as far as what has transpired over the last 28 months, just dealing with it, but we’re ready to move on and for a prosperous future.”
The new and improved Cumberland Avenue, commonly known as “The Strip,” features wider sidewalks, underground utility lines, and left-turn lanes at intersections, with the idea to make the area safer and more pedestrian-friendly.
“They have done a spectacular job,” Marcedes Long Schindler, general manager of Hilton Garden Inn on Cumberland Avenue, said. “It took a long time to get here but we’re really glad that this project is wrapping up. I know that it’s going to be a huge benefit to the area and the area businesses. We’re just really happy about how it turned out.”
The project wrapped up on time and on budget. This will mark the first football season in three years without Cumberland Avenue construction, and merchants along the strip said they are already seeing a spike in business.
“We’ve been busier than we have ever been and we didn’t expect it,” Jennifer Carpenter, Moe’s Southwest Grill general manager, said. “We had no clue that this was going to happen when Cumberland finally got done.”
Though the past couple of years have been challenging, Morton said she is ready to turn the page and hopes the changes will invite more foot traffic and more business.
“We’re just ready to move toward a positive future,” Morton said.