If Jefferson Street in downtown Franklin is a part of your daily commute, get ready for detours.
Next month, work is planned to start on the first phase of a three-year project to rebuild and improve the road, from U.S. 31 to Interstate 65. Work will be done in a total of nine phases, and is planned to be complete by the end of 2019.
The first phase, which officials hope to begin in the next few weeks, will be between Main Street and the Admiral gas station. The work will close the section of road, and no traffic will be allowed through, city engineer Travis Underhill said.
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Last week, city officials got good news that bids came in less than expected. The city accepted a bid for $12.1 million, which was about 5 percent below the city’s $12.8 million estimate for the work, Underhill said. The project is being paid for with money given to Franklin by the state when the city took ownership of Jefferson and King streets, which had been State Road 44. Now, some of that money could be used toward other road projects, he said.
The work has been planned in phases so that downtown Franklin would not have to go through an extended closure of a key east-west route. Phases are slated to run nearly back to back, as the weather allows.
But officials also have allowed some flexibility in the schedule so that if something unexpected were to happen, such as a delay due to weather, crews could work ahead on another phase to try to get back on track with the schedule, Underhill said.
If that was necessary, the city would not allow that section of the road to be closed early, so that residents and businesses can plan for the closures, which have already been laid out on the schedule, he said. The city and the contractor doing the work also have been in contact with residents and businesses, so they can keep them updated on the project and upcoming closures, he said.
At some points in the project, the closure still will allow access to businesses and homes, if there is no other way to get to them. But for the first phase, that won’t be necessary since all of the homes or businesses have other access points, he said.
That will mean that no traffic will be allowed into the area where the road is closed, which is different from some other projects, such as along West Jefferson Street or where work was recently done on King Street. In those cases, vehicles still cut through the construction zone, causing safety concerns for workers, but officials are hoping that won’t be an issue this time since the road will be closed without any access to traffic, Underhill said.
Traffic will be detoured north onto King Street during the closure.
The city’s goal is to have the first phase of work done by the end of the year, a timeline Underhill says is doable as long as work starts on time. Some work, such as the final layer of asphalt, likely won’t be done this year, but also won’t be very noticeable, he said.
His hope is that the meetings, brochures and repeated discussions the city has had about the project in the last several months has prepared people for work to begin, he said.
“My hope is that we have done a good job of over-hyping this, people have information, and it is not as painful as people expect,” Underhill said.
Here is a look at what is coming with the first phase of construction along Jefferson Street:
Where: Between North Main Street and the Admiral gas station
When: August through the end of the year
Closed: The section of road will be closed while work is ongoing, and no through traffic will be allowed. The intersection of Main and Jefferson streets will be closed the final two weeks of the project.