Work is under way at City Hall to start making the vision of the Transportation 2020+ Strategy a reality.
After passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget in late June, which endorsed the transportation plan and a 20-cent property tax rate increase to fund it, Mayor Joe Pitts has convened meetings with Street Department and Finance Department officials to get the plan moving forward.
“Transportation 2020+ -- Priority Decisions for Today, Tomorrow and Beyond” was presented to the City Council in February after 18 months of analysis and planning by an internal study team. It calls for 13 priority projects in Tier 1 for streets, sidewalks, greenways and public transportation.
Mayor Pitts has outlined a schedule of weekly status meetings to get projects moving and to prepare frequent progress reports to the City Council and community. He also has tasked the Finance Department to help the Street Department apply for project-eligible grants, and he has instructed the Street Department to work with the Metropolitan Planning Organization to identify possible state and federal grants.
The transportation work group has chosen the sidewalk and crosswalk project near Liberty Park along State Route 48/13 from Riverside Drive to Zinc Plant Road as the first Transportation 2020+ project. It was chosen because of the immediate need for improvements, expected new development nearby, and City ownership of the necessary rights of way for the project. The new sidewalk also will match up with an ongoing Tennessee Department of Transportation project to widen and improve SR 48/13 with sidewalks from the McClure Bridge to Zinc Plant Road.
The project is expected to be completed in late fall 2022.
“We want to get started and show some early progress,” Mayor Pitts said. “We want to demonstrate to the community that we are moving forward with Tier 1 projects as aggressively as possible.”
Here is an update on the 12 other projects in Tier 1:
ROADWAY & INTERSECTION PROJECTS
- Rossview Road/Dunbar Road -- Under construction.
- Whitfield/Needmore Roads -- Construction contract awarded.
- Tylertown/Oakland Road -- Right of way acquisition under way.
- Spring Creek Parkway -- Right of way acquisition under way.
- Exit 1 Signals/Ramp/Lighting/Slip Lane -- Evaluating TDOT funding eligibility.
- Needmore Road/Boy Scout to Tiny Town/Phase 1 -- Letters of interest issued to vetted firms.
- Memorial Extension -- Letters of interest issued to vetted firms.
SIDEWALKS & MULTI-USE PATHS
- Tiny Town Road/Multi-Use Path -- Evaluating grant eligibility.
- Greenwood Ave/Edmondson Ferry Sidewalks -- Coordinating federal HUD funding.
- Jordan Road Sidewalks -- Evaluating grant eligibility.
- North Senseney Circle/Barkers Mill School Sidewalks -- Evaluating grant eligibility.
Transit Center Relocation -- Site evaluation under way.
The approved property tax rate of $1.23 per $100 of assessed value -- up from $1.0296 for the past two years -- will provide additional revenue of approximately $6.9 million per year to start solving the City’s critical transportation infrastructure needs.
In all, the revised Tier 1 calls for spending a total of $202.19 million on 13 priority roadway, sidewalk and transit improvements. One project, a relocated $10 million Transit Center for the City’s bus system, would be funded with federal dollars and therefore is not included in the borrowing schedule, and some $41.3 million already has been authorized but not yet borrowed for several Tier 1 projects already underway.
After subtracting expected grants and prior allocations, the plan envisions borrowing some $167 million using General Obligation bond issues in varying amounts through 2026 to fund completion of Tier 1 projects.
Twelve of the Tier 1 projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026, and one -- the new Transit Center -- is expected to be completed in 2028.