By EMILY R. WEST
City of Franklin Engineer Paul Holzen brought forth a staggering statistic Monday morning: In the years to come, the McEwen and Carothers Parkway corridor will have the amount of traffic that equals 12 Nissan North America Headquarters.
Traffic became the focal point at the FrankTalks “City on Wheels” discussion with Franklin administrator Eric Stuckey, new planning director Emily Hunter and Holzen. The three highlighted existing city plans now on the way to becoming fully effective such as Invest Franklin, Connect Franklin and Envision.
“When a developer comes to Franklin to make a significant investment in Franklin, we better have a plan, because they might have a plan and it might not be to our benefit,” Holden said.
Per usual conversation when the word “traffic” is said in Franklin, Mack Hatcher Parkway rises to the top of the list. In continued efforts with the state, the Tennessee Department of Transportation hasn’t solved that funding problem. Mayor Ken Moore has explained repeatedly that it wasn’t going to be a feasible option for the city to shell out the millions it would take to finish state road projects like Mack Hatcher Parkway.
But city leaders explained they were making strides toward pushing legislators to figure out a funding solution that was sustainable. Both the City of Franklin and the Williamson County Commission passed resolutions in 2016. Each asked the state representatives and Williamson’s state senator to identify ongoing funding for transportation and find a mechanism to keep pace with inflation. Currently, the state relies heavily on its gasoline tax, which hasn’t changed since 1989.
“I don’t know what that will mean when we come back in session next year,” Stuckey said. “But it’s something we will continue to engage with. There’s been a lot of discussion among the different cities and assessing those needs for each of them. All the different cities across the state have some sort plan, and we want to show what those needs are, and speak as one voice to the state.”
As it sits right now, there are $6.1 billion in backlogged projects across 62 counties. In Williamson, there are seven. If TDOT did nothing but work on backlogged projects, the agency wouldn’t complete them until 2034.
A bill that was supposed to go into summer study to evaluate the benefits and negatives to allowing municipalities to use gas tax money for pedestrian and bike uses is dead in the water.
“The governor is going to be rolling out a sustainable funding plan for transportation, broader than just the gasoline tax,” Moore said.
Moore didn’t elaborate as to when the governor would reveal that plan. He did add figuring out traffic project priorities at least in the city was on the top of the Board of Mayor and Alderman agenda for Tuesday night.
Engineering asked that the alderman rank the their top projects from the 100 included in the Connect Franklin plan. Work session for that discussion begins at 5 p.m. in City Hall.