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Growth driving county transportation needs
Oct 30, 2012 4:00 pm
Wilson County needs more than $366.7 million worth of transportation infrastructure, according to a new report.
The figure includes projects that state and local officials anticipate being needed between 2010 and 2015.
To be included in the inventory, infrastructure projects must not be considered normal maintenance – such as repaving – and must involve a capital cost of at least $50,000.
Wilson County needs or will need 59 transportation projects, according to the report. As of July 2010, 13 projects totaling $61.1 million were in the planning or design stage and 19 projects totaling $83.9 million in the construction stage.
“Wilson County has always had quite a few (transportation-related) jobs going,” said Mayor Philip Craighead. “I feel that TDOT is sure giving us a good share of the new development money.”
Much of that money will go toward widening Interstate 40 between Central Pike and State Route 840, which will help accommodate commuter traffic between Wilson County and Nashville.
“Needs are always increasing,” said Beth Emmons, Region 3 community relations officer for TDOT. “As the population grows and the infrastructure gets older, roads are going to need to be built and repaired.”
Wilson County’s population increased from 88,809 in 2000 to 113,993 in 2010 – an increase of more than 28 percent – according to U.S. Census figures.
“Our needs are growing and changing,” said Craighead.
Wilson County’s increasing industrial base is also reflected in the county’s transportation needs. Among the significant projects planned for the county are a state industrial access route for Kenwal Steel and a state industrial access route for Amazon.
Craighead also ranks work on State Route 109 as a significant project for Wilson County.
“The biggest thing will be the finishing of the bridge over the river between Lebanon and Gallatin,” said Craighead. “I feel like in the next few years, once that’s completed, the 109 corridor will be one of the major growth factors for Wilson County.”
That project, according to Craighead, will benefit not just Wilson County, but Davidson County as well.
“It alleviates a lot of the needs for more roads in downtown Nashville,” said Craighead. “It’s cheaper to build here than it would be to build through downtown Nashville.”
Funding for these projects vary, but possible sources include grants, federal funds, state budget and safety dollars, according to Emmons.
While investing in transportation infrastructure can be costly, it can also help drive the community’s economic growth, according to Emmons.
“I think it’s one of those ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of things,” said Emmons.
Craighead said that the increased traffic not only increases sales in the community, but it can also further drive population growth.
“It becomes a point of wanting to locate here because of accessibility,” said Craighead. “It’s an awesome opportunity for Wilson County.”
Staff writer Sara McManamy-Johnson can be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 16 or email@example.com.