By Skip Anderson, Managing Editor
The road-building season is in full bloom in Franklin, paving the way to a less-congested future while snarling traffic and frustrating drivers in the meantime. Crews are currently working at six locations throughout the city, including, most notably – and arguably most frustratingly – along Mack Hatcher Parkway between Cool Springs Boulevard and Franklin Road and Highway 96, as well as phase one of the Hillsboro Road widening project near Five Points downtown.
The intersection of Mack Hatcher and Highway 96 is a traffic hotspot, even on a good day. Throw in a few lane closures necessitated by the project, and traffic can halt in a hurry. Vehicles traveling Highway 96 toward Franklin from I-65 are likely to encounter logjams at Mack Hatcher. TDOT road crews have shut down several in-bound lanes, leaving the right lane for either crossing Mack Hatcher or turning right, and the left lane exclusively for turning left onto Mack Hatcher. City officials work with Tennessee Department of Transportation to modify traffic lights as needed to accommodate the new traffic patterns brought about by the construction.
“It’s a joint effort with TDOT [and the city of Franklin] to tweak the timing of the lights,” said Milissa Reierson, communications manager for the city of Franklin.
Reierson also said that TDOT responded to city engineers’ concerns by changing their lane-closure plans for the intersection last fall.
“Originally, [outbound traffic on] Highway 96 had only a shared through lane,” said Paul Holzen, engineering director for Franklin. Meaning, traffic stalled until the car at the front of the line turns left. “Now there’s a left-turn lane and two lanes crossing Mack Hatcher.”
The other elephant on the road begins two blocks north of Five Points on Hillsboro Road, where contractors are widening the corridor, which serves as a major artery connecting Franklin to Nashville. But before the road widening can progress further, workers must lay sewer pipe beneath what will one day be a much wider thoroughfare. At times in recent weeks, people operating earth-moving equipment have worked perilously close to slow-moving traffic, separated by only a few feet of orange traffic cones and caution signs. So close, in fact, that the city plans to close the artery to traffic from 7 p.m. Friday, June 7 until 7 a.m. Saturday.
“There is concern of the roadway collapsing,” Holzen said. “The road closure allows them to do the work safely.”
The city has arranged to detour traffic through nearby residential neighborhoods during the closure.
Holzen also said his department plans to request – and pay for – an additional police officer to redouble the city’s efforts to enforce the newly reduced speed limit of 25 miles per hour.
In 2012, Holzen said, about 750,000 cars traveled that stretch of Hillsboro Road daily.
“Given the amount of construction we currently have, I’d say things are going very smoothly,” Reierson said.
Posted on: 6/5/2013