By MATT BLOIS
Brentwood city leaders talked about infrastructure projects, connectivity and the future of the city at a Williamson Inc. town hall event on Friday morning.
Mayor Jill Burgin and City Manager Kirk Bednar represented Brentwood at the event. Williamson Inc., the nonprofit chamber of commerce in Williamson County, hosts the events once a month at Columbia State Community College.
One of the biggest infrastructure projects in Brentwood is the expansion of Franklin Road in southern Brentwood. The project will expand the road from two or three lanes to five, and will include a bike and pedestrian path on the east side.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation started construction in September 2017, and estimated that the project would take about four years to complete.
The project is still on track to finish on time. Bednar said it will probably be two to three years before the project is complete. A timeline from TDOT estimates the it will complete the project in October 2020.
“It’s a significant project, but it’s one that’s needed,” Bednar said.
Brentwood partnered with the state to complete the project. The city spent between $4 million and $5 million on engineering and to purchase right of way.
The bike and pedestrian trail on Franklin Road is part of a larger effort to increase the connectivity of trails in the city. Several recent subdivisions have included space for bike and pedestrian trails.
Bednar said the the city plans to build bike infrastructure on Franklin Road from Concord Road to Moores Lane. The Oman Property, a subdivision that was recently approved on Franklin Road, could include a long portion of that trail.
The city also hopes to install a traffic light in front of the future subdivision, which could make it easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Franklin Road.
In 2015, Brentwood formed a Bike and Pedestrian Committee to investigate how to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
That committee presented a report to the City Commission in August 2016 that recommended finding a way to connect the east and west sides of Brentwood with bike routes.
In May 2018, a consulting company presented a report examining the options for connecting the east and west sides of Brentwood. That report recombined creating a bike path underneath Interstate 65 near Tower Park.
Both Burgin and Bednar said that if they could go back and change anything in Brentwood they would add more connectivity between subdivisions. They said closing off subdivisions has increased traffic on some of the major connecting roads.
The moderator of the event, said that from afar, Brentwood often seems like it runs smoothly without many controversies. Burgin said that’s usually the case, but added that conflict does arise.
“Folks take true ownership and they care so much. Once they choose to live there and invest there significantly, they really don’t want it to change a lot,” she said. “Occasionally, when we have some new ideas that come up, it scares folks.”
While many residents of Brentwood may be wary of change, both Burgin and Bednar expressed confidence that the city would continue to operate successfully.
Burgin praised city staff for effectively managing day to day operations, and Bednar talked about the city’s conservative philosophy when it comes to managing its finances. They believe that approach to city government will continue to serve Brentwood well as the city and the county continue to grow.