Monday, March 17, 2008

Harding Place extension project gets under way???

Proposal from decades ago will link roadway at Donelson Pike to I-40By PAM SHERBORNE | For Davidson A.M. • March 14, 2008 Neighbors being affected by a phase of the Harding Place extension project are concerned about two main issues: traffic and blasting. But concerns and questions over the entire extension project will most likely grow as the project grows. The plans to link Harding Place at Donelson Pike to I-40, east of Nashville, have been on the board for many years. It may be many more before it is completed. "I think this project was actually planned in the '70s, or maybe even earlier, in the '60s," said Metro Councilman Vivian Wilhoite, who represents District 29, where the phase is starting up. "But now there has been some movement in my area. The state has purchased some homes and torn them down." This movement is in preparation for one phase that will consist of the construction of a segment from Couchville Pike to Murfreesboro Road, closing off Old Murfreesboro Road as it runs into Murfreesboro Road. Priest Lake residents concerned about traffic According to one neighbor, Mike Hassell, who is co-president of the Priest Lake Neighborhood Watch, there is a problem with that plan. "Right now, people traveling out of Smith Springs Road toward Murfreesboro Road will first go to the intersection of Smith Springs and Old Murfreesboro Road," Hassell said. "There is a stop sign there. You can take a right onto Old Murfreesboro Road, and that takes you to Murfreesboro Road." Closing off Old Murfreesboro Road, he said, will require all the traffic to go straight at that intersection, staying on Smith Springs Road to Murfreesboro Road. "Currently, that traffic light at Murfreesboro Road is a no-turn on red," he said. "With that, we'll never get out onto Murfreesboro Road." But a Metro Public Works representative has met with some of the concerned residents during a neighborhood meeting last week. "They say they can solve that problem," Wilhoite said, "by providing a designated right lane for traffic to turn onto Murfreesboro Road. That lane won't stop at the light, but will be a flow-through lane." Although Hassell feels that could address that problem, he said, "Now, how are we going to get home? We will all be turning left onto Smith Springs." Blasting also a big issue for neighbors Neighbors are concerned about the inevitable blasting." My question is who is going to pay for the pre-blasting survey prior to the blasting and how far will this survey extend," Hassell said. "I don't expect it to just go out 10 homes or so. We are all on rock out here." A definitive answer to that question may come when part of the project is under way. According to Shannon Ashford, public information officer for the state Department of Commerce and Insurance, which oversees blasting regulations in Tennessee, a pre-blast survey is required by regulations if the blast exceeds the limits of the Standard Table of Distance and the property is within 300 feet of the blast site. "The blasting company would pay for the survey," Ashford said. "They will also need to get a permit to store the explosives from Metro and would need to have a Tennessee licensed blasting firm, handlers, and blasters." Section to Couchville Pike funded for 2008 The Harding Place extension project was developed by the Nashville-area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a federally-designated transportation planning agency responsible for identifying transportation needs and then developing them. The project is being funded by federal and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) money, with an 80/20 percent split, federal and state, respectively. The timetable for the entire project is undetermined. Julie Oaks, public information officer for TDOT, said because of TDOT's financial situation, competition for state and federal construction funding is fierce. But Michael Skipper, director of the Nashville area MPO, said funding for the segment from Murfreesboro Road to Couchville Pike is in the program for 2008. "Of course, it may not be completed in 2008, but the money is there for that segment," Skipper said. Those fees include: $370,000 for preliminary engineering, $1.2 million for relocation of utilities and $8.5 million for construction. That brings the total to slightly more than $10 million. All these fees have the 80/20 split, federal/state. Oaks said environmental and technical studies are under way. "In a few months, when TDOT has the preliminary information from these studies, we will schedule a public meeting to present the information and request public input," Oaks said. "We will be coordinating with Metro Public Works, the Metro Nashville Airport Authority and the Federal Highway Administration."

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