November 2, 2016

Franklin Home Page
by Corey Little

Wednesday night at Hillsboro Elementary/Middle School in Leiper’s Fork, AECOM hosted the first of two community meetings to raise awareness and educate the public about the comprehensive traffic strategy study the engineering firm is conducting for Williamson County.

The second meeting is at 6:30 p.m at Trinity Elementary School off Hwy. 96 in east Williamson County. Also, County Commissioners have been invited to attend a 3:30 p.m. meeting on Thursday at the County Administrative Complex Auditorium.

A different traffic study, adopted as a draft plan in August by the Highway Commission, listed more than 100 road projects necessary by 2030 in order to maintain an acceptable level of service on five main county corridors through 2030. It estimated the improvements will cost $150 million.

The new study, which the county hired consultants AECOM and McBride Dale Clarion to conduct, is taking a comprehensive view to create a comprehensive road map for addressing traffic for the county. It should be complete by early 2017.

Mike Matteson, planning director for the county, introduced the team in August that is conducting the study: Doug Tennant, Matt Meservy and Greg Dale of McBride Dale Clarion.

“The idea behind this study is to work with this consultant team to identify what our current situation is with respect to traffic, where the problems are, what is the degree of congestion, project traffic in the future based on trends and our current development policies and, most importantly, develop a specific set of strategies that can help with dealing with these issues in the future,” Matteson said.

Some of the strategies will include finding funding sources, such as an adequate facilities tax on development, and the regulatory process, such as looking at how the county requires developers to undertake improvements, he said.

Also, the study will consider land use and updating the now 9-year-old county Comprehensive Land Use Plan in order to fit the changing realities of growth-driven traffic.

“There is a very strong link between traffic and land use, so we feel like there is an opportunity in this process to step back and look at our land use policies and decide as a community whether it is appropriate to revisit some of those as we look comprehensively at this issue,” Matteson said.

Meservy broke down the outline of the study. He said the strategic plan elements include: traffic management, how to integrate the land use plan, a list of prioritized capital projects, funding sources and legal and regulatory actions.

The plan will also create a schedule for implementing its recommendations, and it can be either adopted whole-cloth by the county or simply approved as guidelines for the future.

“It is not only about traffic and just about a land use plan, about creating a list of priority projects,” Meservy said. “We don’t have all the money we need, in the real world, so we have to prioritize. We want to create a momentum with the schedule, but don’t want it to be so fast that we leave people behind.”

Currently in the data-collecting stage, Tennant said it will take six to eight months before they present anything finished to the county.

“This is not a small task,” Tennant, who along with Dale and Meservy are Williamson County residents, said. “Traffic in this county, in this region, is a pretty all encompassing thing to think about. So we are going to try to break it down bit by bit through this process and see where we end up.

“We have done this for a lot of years, and there is probably not going to be a silver bullet, a perfect answer that says this is how we are going to solve the traffic problems of Williamson County now and into the future. But what we want to do is create a path forward.”