Shawn Wright (1)

Wright

The Murfreesboro City Council has approved a public-private agreement to rework the entrances to two businesses on New Salem Highway as part of a planned widening of the roadway.

The plan is to modify the entrance of Thorntons on State Route 99 (New Salem) at Old Fort Parkway and make it a joint entrance with a future Wash ’N Roll located to the south, said Chris Griffith, executive director of engineering for the city. This would be done prior to the state’s widening of New Salem.

The plans call for converting the existing Thornton’s entrance into a right in-right out, constructing a 24-foot-wide access road approximately 200 feet in length and installing an entrance, council documents show. Plans call for the project to be completed in about 30-36 weeks

Staff estimates the total design and construction cost will be less than $100,000 with the primary funding source from capital improvement plan funds through the reallocation of savings from previous transportation projects.

Griffith said this will help with traffic flow at the intersection.

SR 99 is being widened in phases from Veterans Parkway’s Southwest Loop to Old Fort, taking the road from two lanes to five lanes, including a center turn lane, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s website. The proposed improvements cover about seven miles, but exclude an area within the Interstate 24 interchange that was previously widened.

The state is buying right of way for the Old Fort section of the project, TDOT’s website said. The contract should be awarded sometime in the fiscal year that ends June 30. The website does not give a timeline for construction.

In other business, Councilmember Shawn Wright brought up the topic of Murfreesboro Electric Department (MED) and the loss of $934,000 in payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) funds to Rutherford County Schools.

Wright said that he consulted with city staff. The budget shortfall happened after the sale of MED, not before.

“The city kept their obligation,” Wright said. “I just want to make sure that was clarified.”

Mayor Shane McFarland said that RCS Superintendent Bill Spurlock and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Administration Doug Bodary spoke to him before the meeting. He told them that city staff and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. would meet with them.

Also, the council approved an $825,800 contract with TDOT, part of an annual program to help transit systems with supplemental funding, according to council documents. The Rover bus system has been fully covered this fiscal year by the CARES Act.

Rover ridership dropped 55 percent in April and May, but has steadily been increasing, officials said.

The council also approved an amendment to a contract with Cowden Associates so the company will provide additional actuarial services in handling the MED retiree pension plan, council documents say.

Although the council approved the original contract in November, Cowden reported the required work was complex. The council’s new agreement means the company’s fee could be as high as $70,000, a $10,000 increase.

Cowden told the city, in a letter, that the additional services will include calculating cost of living adjustments (COLA) for pension participants, as well as consulting and participating in an upcoming executive session of the council.