PHOTO: State Legislator Sam Whitson praises members of the Tennessee Department of Transportation at the construction site for the Mack Hatcher Parkway extension project in Franklin Friday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Officials from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Eutaw Construction, and a bevy of local leaders and media were gathered around the Harpeth River in Franklin Friday to see the progress of the long-awaited Mack Hatcher Parkway northwest extension project, which according to officials is on track to meet its November 2021 deadline. Regional operations engineer for TDOT, Shay Deason, said things were progressing smoothly, and even had hopes for the project to be completed early.
The project, which has been talked about for decades, but didn’t see shovels hit the dirt until earlier this year, will see Mack C. Hatcher Memorial Parkway extended across the Harpeth river, eventually connecting to State Route 96, near the Westhaven community. At 3.1 miles, the project will also feature a 35 foot-tall bridge over the Harpeth, stretching just over half a mile.
Bussed out to the construction site from Zaxby’s off of Hillsboro Road, among the guests to tour the site were County Mayor Rogers Anderson, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and Rep. Sam Whitson.
After reaching the site, Whitson spoke highly of TDOT, saying he was closer to that department than any other due to their hard work and accountability.
“I really want you to see what TDOT does for us — not just on these big projects, but I tell you, they are a great team to work with,” Whitson said. “Filling a pothole on Highway 100 within 24 hours, putting the signage up in Spring Hill for their battlefield… this team right here is focused and serving the public. I am so proud of them.”
Whitson also partly credited the project finally getting underway to the Improve Act. Signed into law by then Gov. Bill Haslam in 2017, the Improve Act saw Tennessee’s first gas tax increase since the 1980s. Along with other tax reductions, the revenue generated from the law is dedicated solely to fund road work, and so far has seen roughly $200 million go to projects throughout the state.
The project’s cost is around $46 million, $16 million of which is used strictly for the bridge over the Harpeth. When completed, the connection will have four lanes, along with a 12-foot multi-use trail.
“This has been an important project, been number one for Franklin for a long, long time,” Moore said. “Been so long I can’t remember, but we had millions of dollars that we put towards the project, and we appreciate the partnership that we have with TDOT.”
Whitson said that besides the obvious benefit to Franklin residents, the usefulness of the new extension extends well beyond Franklin city limits.
“This is really going to help this community out on the west side of town; Founders Pointe, Westhaven, but [will] also benefit the folks who live in Fairview on the western side of the county, they’ll be able to bypass downtown Franklin getting to Cool Springs, which is a big help for those getting to work,” Whitson said. “So it not only benefits Franklin, it also benefits the western part of the county.”