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Preparations begin for Jefferson Pike expansion

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Brian Galford (above) was driving along Jefferson Pike in January when an Allied Waste garbage truck leaving the Middlepoint Landfill sent a softball-sized rock through his windshield.

Plans are underway to improve safety along a major roadway in Smyrna where hazardous driving conditions have contributed to a multitude of accidents.

Jefferson Pike also known as state Route 266 may soon get some much needed improvements, as the current roadway does not safely support the amount of traffic it receives daily, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“SR-266 has an inadequate number of travel lanes to accommodate the existing and projected traffic. The current alignment has many horizontal and vertical ‘blind’ curves that inhibit the adequate stopping distance that is required for drivers’ safety,” according to a TDOT press release.

The proposed plan is to widen the highway to four 12-foot lanes with the inclusion of a center left turning lane or a raised median.

TDOT also intends to add pedestrian and bicycle access, which currently does not exist on the roadway.

TDOT provided a list of several road projects set for Rutherford County over the next few years to the Senate Transportation Committee as part of the state’s comprehensive multi-modal program for 2013-2015, according to a press release.

Improvements to Cason Lane and Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro are also on the list of road projects slated for Rutherford County over the next three years.

“This is important to many citizens in our area due to an increase in traffic. When completed, these projects should help make our roads safer,” said state Sen. Jim Tracey (R-Shelbyville), who serves as chirman of the Transportation Committee.

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) was also in support of the projects affecting his home county saying, “Good roads are essential to our citizens, both for safety and economic development. We are very pleased we have been able to secure these projects for future development.”

With any major road widening project, there is a possibility the state will have to acquire properties along the highway, a process known as Right-of-Way acquisition.

The state can require individuals to sell a portion or all of their property for the purpose of improving highways, though Tennessee’s Right-of-Way Division ensures it offers a fair market price for each property acquired.

“There is Right-of-Way in this plan,” said Deanna Lambert, public information officer for TDOT. “The affect to properties is pretty small.”

Lambert estimates between five and 10 homeowners will be affected by the Jefferson Pike road project.

If homes are acquired under those laws, affected families should receive relocation assistance from the state and may be eligible for other benefits, according to Tennessee’s Right-of-Way Division.

Department officials also said the state will ensure homeowners receive plenty of notice and time to vacate their properties.

Officials from TDOT held a public meeting last week to discuss the design plan and offer citizen input. It was the only public meeting that will be held on the project.

“TDOT’s Right-of-Way Division will schedule a meeting with property owners once appraisals and acquisition are set to start,” Lambert said. “Otherwise, no other public meetings will be needed.”

Work on Jefferson Pike will likely begin in 2015, though appraisals and acquisitions are expected to begin next year, Lambert said.

Read more from:
Bill Ketron, General Assembly, Jefferson Pike, Jim Tracey, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Smyrna, TDOT, Transportation, Travel
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