Wider bypass new priority

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
A regional roads panel is recommending steps toward widening Lewisburg's bypass west of the Nashville Highway.

CHAPEL HILL -- A regional advisory panel that sets priorities for state road projects voted late last week for widening North Ellington Parkway between the Ford and GM dealerships, according to Marshall County's delegate to the organization's meeting at Henry Horton State Park.

Funding for purchase of the rights of way needed for a wider bypass was moved ahead for the fiscal year of July 1, 2011, through June 2012 by unanimous vote of the East Central Rural Planning Organization for roads in Marshall, Bedford, Lincoln, Moore, Franklin, Coffee and Giles counties, according to Marshall's Planning and Codes Director Don Nelson.

That step forward is second only to a project sought by Bedford County officials who want construction of the widening of nearly two miles of U.S.-41A south of Shelbyville toward Tullahoma funded in the next fiscal year.

The Rural Planning Organization (RPO) that met at the state park on Thursday is similar to the federally mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization that sanctions transportation projects in Nashville and other big cities where air pollution requires auto exhaust testing before license plates may be bought or renewed.

Nelson went to the quarterly RPO meeting with County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett's proxy to vote and raise subjects for the county and Nelson pointed out some documents from the Tennessee Department of Transportation were self contradictory, or just inaccurate.

One map shows Saddle Creek Golf Club at the intersection of State Route 50, the Jim McCord Highway toward Columbia, and Franklin Pike, just across the street from the Exxon On the Run convenience store. That's on the north side of town instead of the south side just east of the Fayetteville Highway.

Worse, for Marshall County road improvements, was a contradiction between a map and a chart showing when one road would be scheduled for improvement and another road project rotated to the bottom of the list.

Nelson challenged the minutes of the previous meeting, pointed out the conflicted rankings and officials from offices in Nashville sought a recess, he said. Calls were made to offices.

"To their credit," Nelson said, "they corrected it. It was a group effort. TDOT was responsive.

"At the same time," he concluded, "I'm not celebrating that it will be done overnight.

"I know the roadblock is the bridge" over CSX railroad tracks near the KFC restaurant, Nelson said.

"The big thing here is we got back on the list."