|“The New Northern Gateway”
By Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham
Is that a glimmer of light at the end of this long tunnel? If you squint, you can see it. It has long been the dream of our city leaders, staff, and frustrated citizens to have quick and efficient Interstate 65 access on the northern end of town.
We crossed a major hurdle this month that sped up this aspiration by several years: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander notified us that the City of Spring Hill received a $25 million federal grant, the maximum that could be granted under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. Only 10 months earlier, we received Federal Highway Administration approval to proceed on the new I-65 interchange, with the help of soon-to-be U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn.
That approval process requires construction to get started within seven years. The grant allows us the opportunity to achieve that deadline, along with hope that we could potentially be moving dirt in five years! Does this totally fund this project? No. The total project cost is estimated at about $48 million, which includes the extension of associated connector roadways, so we have some additional funding to acquire.
Is this the only project for the new northern Spring Hill gateway? No. We have several other capital improvement projects that must be implemented in conjunction with the new interchange. This includes the widening of the existing Buckner Road to the point of the new Buckner extension to I-65. Also, the widening and improvement of Buckner Lane, along with the widening of U.S. 31 (Main Street) through Spring Hill from Miles Johnson Parkway to Buckner Road. Although these are all separate road projects, I view them as one major, gigantic project that will form our new northern gateway!
The U.S. 31 project was recently recommended by the Greater Nashville Regional Council/MPO to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to be on its three-year priority list, which is another big hurdle. Like the puzzle we gave you at the State of the City Address a couple of years ago, the pieces are coming together.
What is this new gateway going to look like? It is going to be more than a roadway. It will showcase the new Spring Hill brand that we will be working on in 2019. It will be so pleasing to the eye and welcoming to our citizens after a long day at the office. Visitors will think, “this is truly a nice community.”
It will be multi-modal with wide sidewalks, park benches, bike ways, green space, and more. It will be … “welcome home.” The economic explosion will be huge with large office campuses with their own amenities, mixed residential developments, plenty of retail, and other business opportunities.
This will be a dream come true after many years of planning. It has felt like the continuous, gradual chopping of a small hatchet on this vision. We all would have preferred using a chainsaw to cut much quicker through all the red tape and all the steps involved. But that option was not available.
Our hatchet has gotten somewhat larger now with these recent announcements. We can now see that light much clearer. Once completed, this magnificent new plan will tie in many of our city initiatives by adding critical infrastructure, significantly reducing our status as a bedroom community, reducing our economic leakage by providing businesses we currently lack, and, most importantly, reducing the traffic congestion situation and our weekday commute.
That’s the plan, we have a lot of work ahead of us. See you at the State of the City for even more news.