By next summer, walkers, joggers and bikers in Franklin will have 3 more miles of trails to use.
The $3.3 million project, which connects a trail from the east side to Franklin Community High School, is just one project on a list of improvements the city is planning geared at pedestrians.
Also on the list: a safer crossing on U.S. 31 near two Franklin schools and several shops and more trails and widened sidewalks in other areas.
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And in future years, city officials also want to focus on making it safer to walk along and cross U.S. 31, where several new shops and restaurants have opened or will open in the coming months.
Mayor Steve Barnett called the improvements — especially along U.S. 31 — a top priority for the city. The projects were also listed as a key element of the city’s new long-range thoroughfare plan that lays out road improvements for the coming years.
“Today’s generation of people want the walkability, and we want to attract that to our city,” Barnett said.
Construction is currently ongoing on the city’s newest trail connection, which travels from Franklin Community High School along Commerce Drive, to Arvin Road and then to Hurricane Road and Eastview Drive. The trail connects with King Street at Eastview Drive. Work is expected to be complete by mid-2018, city engineer Mark Richards said.
Also next year, the city is planning improvements to the pedestrian crossing at Mallory Parkway and U.S. 31, where students cross the highway to get to Franklin Community Middle School and Northwood Elementary School, and shoppers cross to get to Kohl’s, Kroger Marketplace and the shopping center next door.
School and city officials have been working together on the timeline for construction, which is set to begin after school lets out for summer and before the 2018-19 school year begins, Richards said. The city also is planning to construct a new roundabout planned at Eastview Drive and Upper Shelbyville Road at the same time, to also coincide with summer break, he said.
And in 2019 and 2020, the city is planning two other projects: a trail along West Jefferson Street, between Westview Drive and the Johnson County fairgrounds in 2019, and then reconstructing South Main Street and adding wider sidewalks in 2020.
Long-term, the city also wants to focus on making U.S. 31 — a key shopping corridor — safer for pedestrians, improving crossings at Main Street, Commerce Drive, South Street, Acorn Drive and Mallory Parkway.
Barnett said he would also like to install trails along both sides of U.S. 31.
The city created a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district along the highway last year to capture property taxes from new development for that purpose, Barnett said.
“That is a top priority to get that done,” Barnett said. “That was one of reasons why we did a TIF area there, to get funds to get that done.”
Also on the list of long-term projects, according to the city’s thoroughfare plan: adding trails along Forsythe, Jefferson and King streets toward Interstate 65 and along South Street and Old U.S. 31.
Planning long-term for those projects is also important for the city, and was a project the city submitted to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, which awards grants for roads and trails to local communities, Richards said.
Franklin’s request to study pedestrian improvements made the top 10 of requests for funding, and the city should get funding for that study within the next year, he said.
That money will allow officials to lay out the specific plans for trails and other pedestrian improvements in the future, Richards said.
Here is a look at trail, sidewalk and pedestrian crossing improvement projects planned in Franklin in coming years:
Three-mile trail connecting Franklin Community High School to the east side of the city along Commerce Drive, Arvin Road, Hurricane Road and Eastview Drive.
Improved pedestrian crossing at U.S. 31 and Mallory Drive
New roundabout at Upper Shelbyville Road and Eastview Drive, which will include pedestrian crossing improvements
Trail along West Jefferson Street, from Westview Drive to the Johnson County fairgrounds
Reconstruction of South Main Street, including wider sidewalks
Trail along Jefferson, Forsythe and King streets to connect to Interstate 65 area
Trail along South Street/Old U.S. 31
Improved pedestrian crossings along U.S. 31 at Main Street, Commerce Drive, South Street, Acorn Road and Mallory Parkway
Trails along both sides of U.S. 31