Posted: Mar 13, 2018 by

You’re probably aware that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in downtown Chattanooga is getting a makeover. I know I’m aware of it; I cross it approximately four times each day.

Hi, I’m Jonathan Gibbons, the GreenTrips coordinator. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my personal experience commuting along the new & improved Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. On the GreenTrips blog, we tend to talk about bigger-picture ideas such as apps that can help connect you to all our transportation options or awards the program wins. This short series will focus on one street from the perspective of one commuter. This is an anecdotal, first-person account of the project’s progress, but we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

To get started, here’s a description of my current daily commute. I am very lucky to live & work in an area with plenty of transportation options. That said, this project will bring the same level of service to additional neighbors, will help connect us to more destinations, & will give all commuters more options for avoiding some potential conflict areas (more on that later).

I live in the Fort Wood Historic District. The neighborhood streets are already easy to navigate by bike, but the Vine Street bike lanes make an easy road even easier. Vine Street takes me to the University Greenway. If you’re not familiar, the University Greenway is a shared-use path running from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard almost to 3rd Street. This quiet urban greenway is so peaceful that there are frequently rabbits nearby on my way home. Who couldn’t use a more bunny-heavy commute?

I hop off the greenway near UTC’s SimCenter & roll down the ramp to get to the crosswalk at Peeples Street. This is the first of two three-way or “T” intersections on my commute. These intersections are a little trickier than the more common four-way intersections. Also, at this particular intersection, there is obviously no traffic light (apart from the pedestrian signals) facing north on Peeples, so I have to take a peripheral peek at the east-west lights on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to know when it’s my turn to cross. These very minor inconveniences introduce a little confusion into an otherwise very safe commute.

Once across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, I take a right on 10th, left on Baldwin Street (the second T intersection), & right again on 11th. I could take 10th all the way to King Street (where my office building is located), but prefer the 11th Street bike lanes for the additional safety & clarity they provide. They end at Douglas Street, so I merge left & prepare to make a left-hand turn onto King Street.

Again, I am already very fortunate to live close to work & have great options for how to get there. However, there are a few spots along the way where I come to an unusual intersection or go a block or two out of my way for a more favorable streetscape. While 11th Street is nice, it’s primarily populated by offices, warehouses, & human service centers. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard’s great mix of restaurants, offices, & retail will make running quick errands on the way home much easier. This project means a little more direct—and a lot safer—access to more destinations. Stay tuned for the next installment when the first redesigned blocks are open!


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