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Franklin trail plans face obstacles despite grants


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Franklin wants to start building a trail that would connect walkers and bikers to a large neighborhood on the city’s north end but can’t make it all the way there yet.

About 750 homes in Knollwood Farms subdivision aren’t connected with trails in the rest of the city. The large neighborhood was supposed to have at least three parks when it was designed, but none was ever developed, city council member and resident Joe Abban said.

Without parks and trails, residents don’t have nearby places to relax or exercise, and the subdivision is segregated from the rest of the city, Abban said.

City officials want to get at least one trail from Franklin Community High School to the neighborhood, but the project is stalled because part of the land that would be needed isn’t in the city limits. That’s also a problem in several places along the west side of Franklin as the city looks to expand its trails.

 

In recent months, the city has planned multiple projects to connect trails on the east side of the city. Franklin received multiple grants that will allow the city to build trails from King Street to U.S. 31 over the next few years through the city’s industrial areas, which will allow people to walk or bike safely in places they couldn’t before. Those trails will hook into the existing Franklin Historic Greenway Trail and connect trails east of U.S. 31.

The city was able to get grants that will pay for 80 percent of the construction cost on the eastside trails because they’re running along major roads, which scored highly in the state’s ranking system.

The city also has applied for a grant for westside trails but could wait about a month before finding out if the city will get any money, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

On the city’s west side, no obvious route exists, and several farm fields in the area aren’t inside the city limits.

West of U.S. 31, no main road runs from Knollwood Farms to Jefferson Street, so city officials have to look at building across open fields or between subdivisions, Franklin parks director Chip Orner said.

For example, the city could begin building a trail north from the high school but currently can’t make the final connection into Knollwood, Orner said. The city has agreements to run the trail behind Northpointe subdivision, Access Johnson County’s offices and Turning Point Church on U.S. 31, but the trail would dead-end at open ground that a developer is marketing as commercial space.

Abban wants the city to start on the part it can get done by next summer, but the city has been holding off until officials find a route that would connect with the neighborhood.

“The one thing I’m not a fan of is building 75 percent of it, where I can see Knollwood, but I can’t get there,” Orner said.

Connecting with the high school trail is a goal for the city, but land north, south and west of the school is in the unincorporated county, so the city can’t build a trail there, which is stalling the process.

Orner has looked at alternative paths for a trail to Knollwood, such as along Centerline Road or along Brewer Ditch, but those areas aren’t in Franklin either.

The city also faces similar problems between the high school and Westview Drive. Part of a trail exists in the Cumberland subdivision, but the path ends at the north edge of the neighborhood because the neighboring fields aren’t in the city. The city could run a path along Westview Drive or try to connect to sidewalks in Camelot subdivision to get to Jefferson Street, Orner said.

“You find that frustrating because once you think you’ve got a good idea, there’s a roadblock. We’re kind of in a holding point,” Orner said.

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