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Editorial: Let’s hope city learned from Main Street Phase 1

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Franklin is about to begin tearing up North Main Street again.

In the first phase of the project, residents and business owners experienced numerous problems. Will Phase 2 be deja vu? We certainly hope not.

Streets might not be sexy, but infrastructure is vital to the economic health of a community. Let roadways deteriorate and you quickly discourage investment and make it harder for existing companies to do business.

By rebuilding Main Street, Franklin will create an attractive and efficient route into the downtown area and make it easier for customers to reach businesses and offices. Not only will the project improve one of the city’s primary connector routes, it will enhance the city’s appearance and complement other beautification projects.

In the first phase, construction crews closed down part of North Main Street in Franklin for a year forcing drivers to detour. Now construction will close parts of the road again until November, but the city is taking extra steps to make sure people are informed throughout the project.

The first project didn’t go as smoothly as the city would have liked. Residents complained when workers unexpectedly cut down trees on their property. Construction crews closed and ripped up all of the roadway along the entire section being worked on, forcing drivers to detour. Businesses struggled when customers couldn’t easily get to their shops.

Residents still have questions as the second phase of construction is about to begin. The city is trying to alleviate concerns by communicating early and often with homeowners and businesses. City officials already have hosted meetings, and they met with property owners in an effort to avoid the complaints and questions that were frequent during the first phase.

Next, officials plan to go door-to-door to talk to residents or leave door hangers with information before construction starts at the end of the month. CrossRoad Engineers will set up a website, where people can track progress and get an early notice of when work in an area will begin. The city will send out emails with biweekly construction updates, including information about what is happening and where.

The $4.7 million project is being broken into four smaller sections instead of tearing up the nearly mile-long road at once. That means drivers will still be able to get to homes or businesses in areas that haven’t been started yet or are completed.

“We learned a lot from Main Street Phase 1,” Mayor Joe McGuinness said. “We’ve made some corrections for Main Street Phase 2.”

The work will be similar to what was done last year, including tearing out and rebuilding the road, installing drains, adding new sidewalks and putting in decorative lighting and trees. New features include small gathering areas with decorative concrete at four intersections.

The information the city is giving out about what’s being done and when should give people plenty of time to prepare to detour, find a new place to park or warn customers of upcoming construction. The road will be closed, but residents will be able to get to their homes.

So, as Franklin launches the second part of this important project, it appears city officials have learned valuable lessons from the first phase of the project. The result, whatever the inconvenience, will be an attractive gateway to the city’s downtown.

As we said, maintaining infrastructure is an important part of a city’s overall economic health. The Main Street project shows a commitment to this vital area.

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