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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
I must take exception to Jack Neely’s statement that the reopening of Henley Street later this year (we hope!) is a “huge missed opportunity” [Secret History, Jan. 3, 2012]. Redevelopment of Chapman Highway and Henley Street as a more pedestrian-friendly corridor will happen, just not right now.
Many people learned of alternate (faster, safer) routes to South Knoxville from downtown. When the bridge re-opens, traffic will resume its headlong flight to Seymour and the mountains over the bridge. There will come a new public awakening that you can’t safely cross Chapman and Henley without taking your life in your hands; the speeding through-traffic in the canyon of Henley will again enforce the barren border dividing UT, the Convention Center, and Fort Sanders from access to downtown.
Even more Knoxvillians will grasp the healthier and more aesthetic potential of a gently flowing boulevard with enhanced retail opportunities. Shaded by trees, our pedestrians, bicycles, and autos will someday cruise through a growing retail community on Henley and Chapman, perhaps with a greenway linking North Knoxville to the Urban Wilderness Park. Faster southward-bound through-traffic will flow on the wider streets and the broader bridge to the east: the James White Parkway.
It just won’t happen now. It can happen later. A growing number of citizens (already in the thousands) will learn of the plan conceived by city planners decades ago. The bridge closure and detour was a lost opportunity, but not huge, not final. Government servants who resist the change or don’t understand its potential (some do!) will grasp its benefits, or will eventually retire to allow a fresh generation to see the future, and help propel downtown to fulfillment of our potential for an even greater city.
It will happen, Jack. Just not right now. Be patient; keep spreading the vision, and keep the faith.