City buying parcels to widen streets, add turn lanes downtown

If you live along West Jefferson Street, you could be one of 32 business or homeowners asked to sell some of your land.

In all, the city needs just more than an acre, but the project being planned will affect dozens of homes and businesses along a 1.5-mile stretch in downtown Franklin.

The city of Franklin is investing more than $10 million to reconstruct West Jefferson Street from U.S. 31 to Eastview Drive during the next four years. The work will include new sidewalks, curbs, street lamps, wider repaved streets and additional turn lanes on the east side of the U.S. 31 intersection. Once completed, the street should match the North Main Street renovations completed last year, officials said.

As planners have been finalizing the details of the project, the city now needs to purchase nearly 1.2 acres of land along West Jefferson Street — belonging to about 32 landowners — to complete the job. Expect to hear from the city this fall.

City officials have not announced which landowners will need to give up part of their land, said Trent Newport, the head engineer for the project and consultant for CrossRoads Engineers.

The land needed will be nothing extreme, Newport said. The land will include slivers of residents’ or businesses’ land — likely their front yards — next to existing right-of-ways, Newport said.

In addition to the land that needs to be purchased, another 11 business or homeowners will need to give up temporary use of their land during construction, according to a public notice from the city.

The temporary land used will total less than one-fifth of an acre, the notice said.

No blueprints have been released by the city or by the project engineering firm to show which land will need to be purchased along West Jefferson Street. Land owners cannot be contacted until the city passes their final environmental study evaluation, Franklin city engineer Travis Underhill said.

Residents can express their concerns about the project or request a public hearing by Oct. 2. After that date, the city can move on with the environmental study, according to the city’s public notice.

The city should receive the final environmental approval within the next month, Underhill said. After that, the city can start contacting homeowners. Newport hopes the city can finalize their land purchases with homeowners and business owners by this winter, he said.

Once the additional land is purchased by the city, the next step for the construction project is to hire a contractor for the job, which is slated to be done in July, Newport said.