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Parkway 'gap' may move to top of capital list

South Franklin and Williamson County commuters trying to get to Cool Springs and beyond this week may have experienced some “new” delays on Interstate 65 due to road construction blasting nearby.
That delay and inconvenience may have been a positive signal, in a paradoxical sort of way, for frustrated residents waiting on one of Franklin’s most anticipated road projects. The South Carothers Parkway Extension will ultimately link motorists traveling from the Goose Creek area to the road’s northern-most point at Moores Lane.
Mountain States Contractors, LLC has been working for a few months on this southern stretch, which could be completed by March 2015 if the Board of Mayor and Aldermen support a new funding request of $2.8 million at their March 11 meeting.
Aldermen have already approved $10.7 million for the extension project, a two-lane arterial road that begins near the west entrance of Falcon Creek subdivision and will follow a diagonal path through what was once farmland, until its terminus at Truman Road West, a neighborhood street within the Highlands of Ladd Park subdivision.
On Tuesday, aldermen voted to fund a design study for a 2,800-foot gap of the parkway that is not included in the original project.
Aldermen will consider a staff request for $2.9 million for construction at its March 11 meeting.
Developer Trillium Farms, LP has overseen the Ladd Park project, but according to City Administrator Eric Stuckey’s presentation to aldermen this week, the company has no immediate plans to build out this southern section of the development, meaning construction on the “gap” stretch of roadway is on the backburner.
This  “gap”—2,800 linear feet of road—can be constructed by the city, sooner rather than later, according to Stuckey who said that the project crew is already on site and completion of this section from Truman Road West to Parkworth Drive makes sense now.
Without this stretch of road, motorists would be forced to travel daily through the narrow neighborhood streets of Ladd Park to connect to the rest of South Carothers Parkway that ultimately connects to Highway 96 east and Cool Springs.
“The way traffic would flow through the neighborhood is a problem because the streets are very narrow,” City Engineer Paul Holzen told aldermen Tuesday, adding that the traffic on I-65 will be mitigated some when the parkway is complete.
Stuckey has asked the board to explore some financial options, including reconsidering a Capital Investment Program priority list.
The city issued a total of $17.5 million in bonds last fall, and the remaining $2.5 million of “debt capacity” could be one source of revenue for the board.
But other projects remain on the CIP list, including multiple sidewalk construction projects—one along Murfreesboro Road from Pinkerton Park to Ralston Lane and one from New Highway 96W from Freedom Intermediate School to Downs Boulevard. 
Also, up for consideration is McEwen Drive, phase IV improvements from Cool Springs Boulevard to Wilson Pike, which would be the final design for that project. An east-west connector project across I-65 called the Long Lane/Old Peytonsville Road Connection is also on the list.
Southeast corridor attracts growth
Hundreds of homes have been built in the area, with Ladd Park claiming most of the single-family dwellings.
More than 3,000 homes are expected to fill this southern corridor over the next several years.
Additional neighborhoods on the drawing board include Carothers Cove, Lockwood Glen, Waters Edge and more.
Students in these areas will attend Oakview Elementary, Page Middle and Page High School.
This southeast corridor is one of the first to be developed from Franklin’s Urban Growth Boundary acquisition dating back more than 12 years ago. 
Berry Farms, on the opposite side of I-65, is booming, with homes being sold at a fast pace and retail open for business.
The city adopted a debt ceiling policy a few years ago to keep the ratio at eight percent of the total operating budget. 
There was some discussion this week about relaxing that policy in order to push more projects through the pipeline.

Posted on: 2/27/2014


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