Getting a few construction-free days on Jefferson Street has been a relief for local drivers, especially as they prepare for another round of roadwork and closings set to begin today.
Since the second phase of the Jefferson Street reconstruction project ended last week, drivers headed through downtown Franklin have had a clear stretch of road, a rare sight so far this summer.
“It’s such a relief,” said Franklin resident John Sherril, who drives on Jefferson Street at least once a day.
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But that open road is about to close again with the city set to begin the third phase of years-long reconstruction project today from Main Street to Home Avenue.
For drivers, that means Jefferson Street will be closed from Main Street to Crowell Street starting today while crews work on the intersection at Home Avenue. By the middle of the month, when work at the intersection of Home Avenue is complete, the road will reopen between Home Avenue and Crowell Street
But drivers will have to continue to detour around the section from Main Street to Home Avenue, which remain closed until mid-September. Detours recommended by the city include using Madison Street to the north and Monroe Street to the south to bypass the construction.
And when that work is done, prepare for phase 4, which stretches from Home Avenue to the railroad tracks, and is set to be under construction through Thanksgiving.
The third phase of the $12.1 million project to rebuild Jefferson Street and King Street from U.S. 31 to Eastview Drive will include rebuilding the road, replacing sidewalks and removing the stoplight at Home Avenue. Instead, traffic on Home Avenue will have a stop sign, and traffic on Jefferson Street will be allowed to drive through without stopping.
The three-year project, which started last year, has been a headache, but will be worthwhile when it is done, drivers said.
Mallary Newport, who lives on Yandes Street, said the construction has been frustrating since Jefferson Street had been her typical route to get onto U.S. 31. But she also is looking forward to having one less stoplight on Jefferson Street once the next phase is completed, she said.
“A lot of those lights are pointless,” she said.
While the construction is an inconvenience, Larry Bridges said he recognizes the work also is a necessity.
“It’s part of progress,” he said.
Sherril described dealing with the detours as a minor setback in a project that will make downtown Franklin much nicer.
Pete Smith, a Greenwood resident who works at Franklin College, said his normal route to work had always been to go south on U.S. 31 and then east on Jefferson Street. Since work began this spring, he’s taken Jefferson Street off his route almost entirely. Having grown up in Franklin, Smith said he knows the local roads well enough to always find the best detour.
While the newly finished section of Jefferson Street looks nice, Smith said he’d like to see the city also invest in repairs elsewhere, such as on Madison Street or King Street, west of Forsythe Street.
The next phase of the Jefferson Street reconstruction begins today. Here’s a look at where Jefferson Street will be closed for construction the remainder of the year.
July 5 to July 13: Main Street to Crowell Street
July 14 to mid-September: Main Street to Home Avenue.
Mid-September to around Thanksgiving: Home Avenue to the railroad tracks