In another gigantic boost to the revitalization of the Northtown district in Mt. Juliet, a near $950,000 state grant for sidewalks has been awarded.
Northtown is in City Commissioner Ray Justice's district that encompasses the Lebanon Road area.
"I'm excited to say a $943,295 grant has been awarded for the construction of sidewalks from North Mt. Juliet Road to Nonaville Road," Justice said.
He said City of Mt. Juliet Deputy Public Works Director Andy Barlow applied for the grant about a year ago.
"The sidewalks will be on both sides of Lebanon Road," Justice added.
The grant was just announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer. Northtown's grant is part of an award of $10.2 million in Multimodal Access Fund Grants to 14 communities across the state, according to TDOT officials. The grants will fund infrastructure projects that support the transportation needs of transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists.
"Improving our facilities for walking, biking and transit is critical to the continued growth and success of our towns and cities, and these grants help make our communities across Tennessee more livable by creating more transportation options," Haslam said.
Multimodal Access projects are funded 95 percent by TDOT, with five percent funded with local matching funds, according to Schroer.
"We only have to pay a five percent match versus the typical 20 percent match on most projects," Barlow said. "The project itself consists of installing 6-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of Lebanon Road from Nonaville Road to Mt. Juliet Road."
Barlow said the sidewalk project achieves the "primary goal of providing safe and alternative modes of transportation in this heavily commercial part of town."
"But, it also will help to spur further development in the city's Northown area." Barlow said.
"Our responsibilities as a transportation agency go far beyond building roads and bridges," Schroer said. "Providing safe access for different modes of transportation ultimately creates a more complete and diverse network for our users. These projects are also extremely cost effective, which allows TDOT to make improvements in more areas across the state."
The Northtown sidewalk project is about a mile long. It will provide a safe, accessible pedestrian route and connect many commercial establishment and residential areas.
"This is one more piece of the puzzle in putting together a revitalized Northtown district," Justice said. "It's improving walkability in this district. It goes along with our greenway plans."
Justice said there may be lands secured for a greenway and that process is going forward. The plans are for a potential greenway along Cedar Creek, near Mt. Juliet High School and into the back of Charlie Daniels Park.
Justice added he was elated with the news of the grant and noted the backbone of Mt. Juliet are the city's "mom and pops" that started "it all here." Along with the mom and pops, he noted recent efforts to revitalize the district that include the recently-approved Starbucks and a new Krystal will be built next to Starbucks.
The Multimodal Access Grant was created in 2013, and TDOT has been able to fund 27 projects through a competitive grant process.
"I would like to thank city staff, the Mt. Juliet BPAC and city commissioners for their support and assistance on the work to make this application a success," Barlow said.
"It will likely be at least a year before we can begin construction on the sidewalks due to the typical design and approval process for larger projects," he said.
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.