Chattanooga Times Free Press
April 15, 2015
The footprint of Winchester, Tenn.’s efforts to update and enhance its downtown area will expand in new work planned a block away from the completed project on the Franklin County Courthouse square.
If plans remain on track, construction could begin this summer on First Avenue Northwest and First Avenue Southeast.
“We’re waiting on the notice to proceed from the state,” Winchester City Administrator Beth Rhoton said Tuesday. “We thought we’d already be under construction at this point, but it’s looking like it’s going to be summer.”
The idea is to make the businesses, restaurants and services in the downtown area easier to reach on foot for city residents and downtown visitors, according to officials.
Work includes the construction of sidewalks along both Winchester’s First avenues, Northwest and Southeast, respectively, from South High Street to South Jefferson Street, with new decorative lighting, pedestrian signs, utility relocation underground, landscaping and other amenities.
The work will build on an enhancement project finished a few years ago that included new sidewalks, lighting, brick crosswalks, planters, benches and other amenities on the courthouse square. A completely new sidewalk was built around the courthouse building where there was none before.
Thanks to those accomplishments, the city was named a Main Street Community by the Tennessee Main Street Program last June and more recently was named an “accredited” Main Street Community by the national organization, outgoing Winchester Downtown Director Jerry Sharber said.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation completed that project in concert with the Winchester Downtown Program organization.
Since the square work was finished, a stretch of Dinah Shore Boulevard was improved from the square to Tims Ford Lake with new sidewalks and lighting, connecting foot traffic to the developing waterfront area, officials said.
City officials want to continue that work with funding from a $668,853 TDOT enhancement grant including the city’s 20-percent match.
“Now we’ll start on the First avenues, one block off the square,” she said. “We’re actually getting two of the roads done. The only part that’s not being done is the part in front of City Hall” on North High Street.
The new work on the two First avenues will be designed in keeping with the styles on the square. Crosswalks might be added to those areas later, Rhoton said.