I am happy to report that the final phase of the SR 109 expansion project is fully funded in the budget. Construction will commence as soon as the land acquisition is complete – that is - the purchase of the right-of-way from the property owners that live along the side of 109.
ROAD PLANNING PROCESS
It is not uncommon to believe that the state legislature selects which roads will be constructed - we do not - we fund TDOT's budget. TDOT plans the roads based on the priorities submitted to TDOT by regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO).
Our MPO is the Nashville area MPO; an organization made up of several counties in the Nashville region - Davidson, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties. It consists of a 19 member board made up of the county and city mayors from this region.
The mayors' job on the MPO is to create the plan of prioritized road projects, and to submit these needs to TDOT. TDOT then chooses which projects to fund in a given budget year. The General Assembly's role is to fund TDOT with state tax dollars. TDOT also receives federal tax dollars.
STATUS OF SR 109 EXPANSION PROJECT
This extremely important and very large public safety project is in the final phase. Except for this final leg, the entirety of the road from I 65 to the north to SR 840 in the south is complete, including the new and very beautiful bridge over the Cumberland River.
Road construction projects move through 4 phases; design, environmental studies, land acquisition and then construction.
The SR 109 project is currently in the land acquisition phase; parcels are at this time being purchased for the widening of the road. The money for the construction phase is already budgeted and only waiting for the purchase of the land parcels to be finalized.
Several community meetings have taken place with the affected landowners and more will occur. Each parcel is a separate real estate transaction, therefore, each landowner has met with TDOT in order to understand how much land is being taken, what will happen to their driveways, and in some cases, the entire home is being purchased because the new road will leave so little frontage that the state must purchase the home as well. Land owners are provided a plan, a purchase contract and a price. Any disagreements over price or the taking must be worked out - sometimes in court so this process tends to take the most amount of time.
As you might imagine, it can be difficult to totally compensate someone for putting a highway in their front yard.
The engineering and the environmental studies are complete so as soon as all of the parcels are acquired, TDOT will commence construction.
The MPO and TDOT are very aware of the dangers on this road, and TDOT is working as fast as they can to come to agreeable terms with the property owners.
Unfortunately, increased traffic volume between SR 840 and I 65, coupled with increased residential growth in the area, speed and perhaps distractions have caused the accidents to escalate. But we can all commit to slow down, to be extra courteous to other motorists and to keep our attention only on the road while the land owners are finalizing their transactions. And most of all, please remember to pray for travel mercies for your family and for others.