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County Commission Survey (Reply from Commissioner)

posted December 8, 2014

I wanted to thank everyone who completed the recent survey regarding the bike trail to Clovercroft Elementary.  The response was overwhelmingly positive that a majority of McKays Mill residents would like to see a bike trail constructed.  I would like to share with you what I have been doing in regards to that.

In talking with County planning officials, I discovered that there is a plan on the books to fix our vintage railroad underpasses on Wilson Pike.  Since Wilson Pike is a state road, this is a state project.   This plan has actually been sitting on the TDOT planning list for 15 years.

Some of you may recall that there used to be another underpass to the north of McKays Mill directly across from Ravenwood HS.  When Ravenwood was under construction there was a lot of attention given to the fact that because of the school, the railroad underpass would have to be fixed and that project was made a priority.  There were many similar statements made when Clovercroft Elementary was in the planning stages, but for some reason the project got placed on the back burner and the result is the  traffic nightmare for school buses and cars at peak hours on that stretch of road that we have all been living with for many years.  I have conferred with my fellow commissioner Kathy Danner and Franklin City Alderman Bev Burger and we believe that it is time that we put together a concerted effort to get this project completed.

The original plan included improvements to Wilson Pike all the way down to Hwy 96 in Arrington.  Our idea is to sell the state on the concept of completing a shortened version of the original plan from the old Trinity school area all the way to Mcewen Drive.  If completed as planned, the project would move Wilson Pike to the east, bypassing both railroad underpasses and connect with the current Wilson Pike somewhere north of Clovercroft road.  For those of you who love the tunnels, they will still stay intact and that old section of Wilson Pike will likely become a county road that is used primarily by local residents who live on the road. Depending on where the new road connects with the old Wilson Pike, part of the old road might become obsolete and could be used as part of a bike path to Clovercroft Elementary.  For now, we need to wait and see what the state may do about fixing the tunnel situation before pursuing the possibility of a bike path because of the change in the location of Wilson Pike.

Over the past several weeks, we have talked to both Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and County Mayor Rogers Anderson and County planning authorities about the project.  We are also enlisting the aid of our State Rep. Glen Casada and State Sen. Jack Johnson to bring as much pressure to bear on the state to look at this project.  We have been told that money is very tight at TDOT and that there are many pressing road projects vying for the available federal and state funds for roads.  One of the problems that may demand a remedy very soon is that our road funds are derived from the gasoline tax and since car manufacturers are making cars that are much more fuel efficient than older models and with the addition of electric cars to the market, gas tax revenues are plummeting.

I have drafted a letter which all three of us signed to the director of the regional road planning board stressing the critical need for this project.  This board will meet some time in November and Bev, Kathy and I all plan to attend and speak at the meeting regarding this plan.  Given the shortage of funds, we are uncertain of how successful we will be, but we are very hopeful that the combined efforts of the City of Franklin and Williamson County will produce some favorable results.

In the comments section of the survey, several of you mentioned the idea of connecting a bike path to the new park in Brentwood from McKays Mill.  That is a very good idea.

  I would like to see us develop a more bike friendly community.  I have passed some of you riding on Clovercroft Road and thought that either you are some of the bravest individuals in the world or you have suicidal tendencies.   A connection to the Brentwood trails would give bikers over 10 miles of trails to ride and an extension may eventually be made all the way to Nolensville.  There are many Federal Greenway Grants available for projects like this.  The City of Nolensville has recently successfully applied for and was awarded one of these grants.  I plan to contact the officials there who wrote that grant and get more details about how they were able to obtain that funding.  This idea would depend on three things:

1.       The ability to obtain a right-of-way

2.       Obtaining the Federal grant money for the project (or if the County may have some funds to contribute to such a project in combination with that)

3.       Getting permission from Brentwood to connect to their trail system.

I was at a meeting earlier this week with Brentwood Mayor Crossley and based on my conversation with her,  I believe that the third item can easily be achieved.  The other two may prove to be much more difficult.

Thank you all once again for your response to the survey.  I appreciate your feedback very much.  If you would like to be included on future emails on this project and other things going on in the 4th District, please send me an email at GreggLawrence@williamson-tn.org.

Gregg Lawrence

4th District County Commissioner

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