BY A.J. DUGGER III
The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee held a brief 2 p.m. press conference at Franklin Christian Academy on Monday to kick off a 95-county tour exploring the projects going on in each of Tennessee’s counties.
The main topic of discussion was the state’s IMPROVE Act’s projects for the transportation infrastructure of Williamson County. The location was a significant part of the talk. Franklin Christian Academy’s campus was built alongside the future route of Mack Hatcher Parkway, one of the most anticipated projects in Franklin.
Bill Moore, coalition member and chairman of The Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance said, “There is a list of 962 projects in the IMPROVE Act that have to be done over 15 years.”
Moore said he expects heavy equipment to be at work next year near the campus along Highway 96 West, the end of the 2.7-mile, $30.1 million link to Hillsboro Road.
Similarly anticipated projects in the Spring Hill area did not make the cut for the three-year plan.
Moore explained that Spring Hill and other areas are also part of the longer-term plan, but it will take more time.
“They can’t do all the projects yet because the money hasn’t come in,” Moore said. “Spring Hill, for example, has a widening project for US-31 0that goes from Duplex Road in Spring Hill to I-840 in Thompson’s Station. It’s 3.28 miles and costs $60 million. That plan is not funded within the first three years. Everything couldn’t be done at once.”
Moore stated that the money is divided equally between the rural and urban areas. Of the 962 projects, 700 of them are bridges, most of which are rural.
He noted that even the Mack C. Hatcher Memorial Parkway Northwest Extension project approved last week will not build the road as wide as the rest of Mack Hatcher. Only two lanes will be constructed, despite the roadway being outlined for four.
“The additional two-lanes have not been funded yet by TDOT. We’re focused on getting the initial two lanes built,” Moore said. “It takes anywhere from 10 to 12 years to build a major roadway and that’s assuming the funding is available, which in this case it wasn’t,” he said.
Implementation of the extension plan would allow drivers along Highway 96 West to get directly to Cool Springs, or vice versa without getting caught in the traffic jams on Hillsboro Road in front of Franklin High School.
“We’re fortunate that Mack Hatcher was ready to go,” said Moore. “Now we have the increased funding in order to get the construction started. Hopefully it will go into contract later this year around October or December and you’ll be hearing bulldozers next year this time.”