Several years ago, the city of Franklin began planning how to spruce up the entries into the city to attract visitors and shoppers to key areas in downtown and along U.S. 31.
And now, the city has funding for the final project to rebuild roadways and add new decorative lighting, landscaping and other features.
The city recently got a $1.4 million grant, which will cover nearly half of the cost of a project to rebuild and add new features to South Main Street, from the bridge over Youngs Creek to U.S. 31. The nearly $3 million project is the final piece of a plan drafted years ago to spruce up the entries into the city along Main, Jefferson and King streets.
Work finished last year to repave and redevelop North Main Street. And this summer, work will begin on a three-year project to rebuild Jefferson and King streets, from U.S. 31 to Interstate 65.
The final piece of the overall gateway plan is along South Main Street, and the city is planning to begin that work in 2020, city engineer Travis Underhill said.
That project will include sidewalks on both sides of the road, new decorative lighting and monuments and added parking, Underhill said. The work will be focused on the area between the bridge over Youngs Creek and Champ Ulysses Street. Between Champ Ulysses Street and U.S. 31, which is more rural, the project will add a bike path and a gateway feature at U.S. 31, he said.
The work will require closures along South Main Street, but those will be detailed as the project is planned out in the next few years, he said.
Work is set to begin in 2020, the year after work is finished on Jefferson and King streets.
And once the work is done, the key gateways the city set out to focus on will all have been improved, with rebuilt roads, widened sidewalks and decorative features meant to draw people in to key areas, officials said.
“This is really the last piece of it. And it’s pretty exciting,” Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
The city also has been able to get more than 80 percent of the funding for the gateway projects from federal and state grants, he said. Grant money helped pay for North Main Street, and has also been approved for South Main Street. And the city got the majority of the money to rebuild Jefferson and King streets from the state when Franklin took over State Road 44, he said.
City officials do their homework before applying for grants, and show why the project is needed and how it fits in with the overall plans the city has for the future, he said.
And that has paid off in millions in grant funds for road projects, he said.