A corridor management agreement on U.S. 31 between state, county and local governments took one step forward Tuesday night when Spring Hill agreed to sign it.
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson knows that traffic, both a result of and threat to the county’s steady growth, is one of the biggest challenges for local government to manage.
He also knows that to approach it, the whole region needs to work together.
That is the idea behind a corridor management agreement on Route 6/U.S. 31 that is working its way through Middle Tennessee’s local governing bodies, spurred on by Anderson.
It involves Franklin, Spring Hill, Thompson’s Station, Maury County and Columbia. On Tuesday Spring Hill’s Board of Mayor and Alderman became the first party outside of the County Commission to sign on to it.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation designed the plan, which creates common obligations for how to develop the corridor with maximum safety and minimum congestion. The highway agency sent it out to the county to present to the municipalities connected by Route 6/U.S. 31.
At the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Alderman voting session on Jan. 16, Spring Hill will very likely become the first local government to sign on since the Williamson County Commission gave Anderson the go-ahead to pursue it in September.
“This entire corridor is a regional issue,” Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham said. “And it is in play so much, with every [municipality] doing their own thing … We need collaboration and cooperation. We plan on being one of the key players.”
While not directly related, Graham sees the agreement as tying into Spring Hill plans to widen U.S. 31 in the north of the city to five lanes, a big on-going project with TDOT help in the early stages, and a long-desired Buckner Road/I-65 interchange.
“It is all tied together,” he said. “It will help push it along. Anytime we can get regional, city, county cooperation, any time you have those agreements the players together it helps get things done.”
Speaking about the I-65 interchange, for instance, when TDOT decides undertake a project, he said, it is not about what is good for Spring Hill.
“They don’t care if we say, ‘Hey, Spring Hill needs this,’ they care about regional value,” he said. “We need to show regional value to get TDOT involved.”
The Route 6 agreement furthers the conversation, he said, and creates a regional outlook beneficial to all.
The signees will get together to discuss individual issues and concerns sometime in the next few months, said Graham about the agreement.
“This is a first step,” Anderson said.
The corridor plan sets out the parameters for how governments along the route will work together, by providing a “framework” for Williamson County, Maury County, Franklin, Thompson’s Station, Spring Hill, Columbia, the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization and TDOT to follow.
Its sets the goals of: improving regional transportation for local residents, commuters and freight; controlling access and safety; multi-modal options; coordination among municipalities, school systems and businesses; education of alternative routes; and improving streetscapes along the corridor.
The draft plan identifies four major tools that the signees will use:
Traffic Management and Operations
Land Use Planning
Roadway Design and Capacity
If all parties adopt the draft plan, they will agree to “cooperate in the pursuit, adoption, and implementation of the strategies and actions” outlined using the above tools.
Access Management is “the relationship of adjacent land uses and activities to the corridor itself.”
It includes thing such as spacing standards, corner clearance standards, driveway design standards, wayfinding signage, and street network designs.
The next step in it will be to set standards along the corridor.
Traffic Management “encompasses a wide range of activities aimed at maintaining of improving the overall safety and efficiency of the corridor.”
It includes traffic signal timing, Integrated Intelligent Transportation Systems applications, EMS technology, a Truck/Freight Plan, work zone management, bottleneck removal, and traffic impact studies, among other things.
The signees will develop a “process for coordinated traffic management … corridor wide.”
Land Use Planning “describes the location and type of places and activities along a corridor.”
It includes land use plans, zoning, including design overlays, subdivision regulation and an Urban Services plan.
The parties in the agreement will “consider accepting by resolution of their respected legislative bodies and planning commissions the findings and recommendations that come from the Corridor Management Agreement in the future.”
Roadway Design and Capacity: “design improvements enhance the safety and operation of the road, while capacity improvements allow more vehicles to travel on the road.”
Actions include roadway alignment, travel lane and shoulder widths, median, crosswalks, bike lanes, on-street parking, on and off ramp locations, travel lanes, and more.