The case for a Franklin Pike Berry Hill to Brentwood Path Study


Mayor Heidi Campbell of Oak Hill provided this position paper:

 

The health of a community depends a great deal on the quality of life it provides residents.

By some estimates, the population of Davidson County is increasing by 100 people per day.1 We all want to maintain our quiet, residential, neighborhoods, but this will not be possible if we don’t adjust to our growing environment. Traffic and safety are burgeoning issues as our major thoroughfares (Franklin Pike/Battery/Tyne/Woodmont/OHB) are utilized as alternative routes during congested periods of the day.

An offset multi-modal path/greenway on the Franklin Pike corridor between Woodmont Boulevard and Old Hickory Boulevard (with a corollary path on Otter Creek to Radnor Lake) would provide significant safety, health, recreation, and connectivity improvements for our community. Oak Hill property values would increase, especially those most proximate to the path, and the linearity of the path and available right-of-way would mitigate disruption.

The purpose of the planning grant is to consult with the community, analyze the logistics, and address funding issues. The route could be on either side of the road and may change with consideration of property owners, safety, and logistics. Any bike path/sidewalk/house/building initiative will have proponents and detractors, but as a city, we cannot simply ignore infrastructure improvement opportunities for fear of change. Most residents and members of the greater community have been very positive and supportive of this prospect. Initially the issue was included on our 2019 CAC survey, and before it was removed (due to the BOC vote) had 2 -to-1 favorability. Comprehensive information about funding was included on the survey.

The city is changing around us, and we will either be a part of the conversation, or a casualty. Safety is of paramount importance, as pedestrians and bikers risk accidents on a regular basis due to the burgeoning traffic issues on this route. This would provide safe routes to schools and would extend up to Radnor Lake (where riders get have gotten hit by cars). It would be offset from the road, and would get bikers and pedestrians off of the street.

Committing to a study is not committing to a plan. The very purpose of the study is to determine whether or not a plan is viable.

Funding:

The City of Oak Hill has not spent any capital on surveys or studies in the past five years. The assets of the City exceeded its liabilities by $6,338,006 for the 2017/2018 fiscal year. Our total net position increased by $511,748, primarily due to an increase in building permits and states sales tax revenue (Hall Tax)*. As of June 30, 2018, the city’s governmental funds reported ending fund balances of $5,478,150, representing an increase of $327,693 from the previous year. Over the course of the current administration’s tenure, our net reserves have increased by $1.3M.

We recently secured ~$500K a year in funding from Metro Nashville that must be spent on infrastructure improvements.

Eighty percent of the ($300K) study is funded, and the City of Oak Hill would be funding 20% ($60K). Stakeholders along the route (churches and schools) have agreed to contribute to Oak Hill’s 20% investment (specifics are available from City Manager Clawson).

*Most recent audit report

Safety:

· 96 percent of people using protected bike lanes believe they increased safety on the street. (Monsere, C., et al., 2014)

· Streets with protected bike lanes saw 90 percent fewer injuries per mile than those with no bike infrastructure.

· Protected bike lanes reduce bike-related intersection injuries by about 75 percent compared to comparable crossings without infrastructure.

Davidson county has the highest injury/crash rate in the state of Tennessee, with an average of 70 cyclist/automobile accidents. We also have the highest young driver crash rate. With Franklin Road Academy, Father Ryan High School, and Overton High School all along the route, accident likelihood increases significantly. A multi-modal path offset from the road, would take bikes and pedestrians out of the equation, and significantly increase safety along the route.

Health:

The AARP has researched and compiled a list of health advantages of bike-paths for non-riders. These include safer streets, exercise opportunity (walking), sociability, and environmental improvement. Tennessee has the 15th highest adult obesity rate in the nation, and the 20th highest rate for youth.

Connectivity:

The Franklin Pike Multi-modal path/Greenway would connect to the I-440 Greenway path (already being built), Radnor Lake State Park, Brentwood, and Berry Hill. It would consequently give Oak Hill residents, students, and congregations, connectivity to a significant portion of the greater Nashville area.

Land Value:

The value of properties within one block of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail increased 148 percent after construction — more than doubling in value from 2008 to 2015. The $63 million public and private investment helped create $1 billion in additional assessed property value. 5 As shown in this UNC report, several recent empirical studies have shown that greenways positively affect home prices.

The issue of eminent domain:

Franklin Pike is not maintained by the City of Oak Hill. It is a state route. As such the process of infrastructure improvements proximate to the route would fall under the purview of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. TDOT cursorily assessed the route to determine whether or not property acquisition would be necessary to proceed and were of the opinion that it would NOT be necessary. If an in-depth analysis (per the study) were to indicate otherwise, then it would be a substantive component of a case against proceeding with the plan. Regardless, the City of Oak Hill never has and likely never would enact eminent domain, and TDOT rarely employs the practice for infrastructure improvements.

Burying the lines:

This may or may not be viable, but it is possible that NES/TDOT/AT&T/XFINITY may deem it advantageous in terms of projected maintenance costs to drop the lines. Determining the appetite for this opportunity would be a component of the study.

Above ground lines cost around $10 per foot and underground lines cost in the range of $20 to $40 per foot. So, for this three-mile stretch initial costs would be estimated at $316,800-$633,6006 (complications notwithstanding).

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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