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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Downtown sidewalk improvement project planned for 14 years but can't seem get to started

Downtown Crossville sidewalks and street light supports
These photos are from July 2016

In some places the roadway is as high as the sidewalk 
creating potential water flow problems for businesses 

Sidewalk discussion by city council

Sidewalk improvements in Downtown Crossville have been under discussion for over 14 years now and the latest plan was to have city crews repair and redo parts of the sidewalk depending on the condition they are in but a discussion on the project lead nowhere but to a work session for more discussion during Crossville city council's April regular meeting.

The sidewalk project has also been holding up the resurfacing project of Main Street through Downtown that remains full of patches following the work to install water lines last year.

After over 25 minutes of discussion including talk about possible new LED streets lights and where the work should start, the discussion was pushed to an upcoming work session after a motion was made and then withdrawn to begin work. The city has gotten the necessary permit to work on the sidewalks from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and also plans to redo the traffic lights at Main Street and Lantana Road at the bottom of Water Tank Hill.

The traffic light project will be done to allow the sidewalks to be fixed around that intersection as the elevations of the current traffic light poles and sidewalks are not compatible now. An environmental study is being completed before the traffic light work moves forward.

New city manager Greg Wood talked to the council about installing LED street lights because of the cost savings of operating the more efficient lights. The current lights are operated by Volunteer Electric at an annual cost of $751 per light. According to Wood, the cost for LED is substantially lower plus the bulbs last 20 to 30 years before needing replaced.

The project would require installation of conduit in the sidewalk for the new street lights and that slowed the discussion again as the council could not decide whether to start with just sidewalks or both projects together.

Councilman J. H. Graham said he thought the city should begin the sidewalk program immediately at Lantana Road and start down one side of Main Street putting in conduit if necessary. Councilwoman Pamala Harris agreed saying, “People were worn out with it.”

Councilman Danny Wyatt asked finance director Fred Houston about funds budgeted for the work by city crews and Houston said some $250,000 was added to the street department's budget and additional equipment as well.
Crossville city engineer Tim Begley, right talks to council
members about sidewalks. L-R behind desk are
Mayor James Mayberry, council memebers Pam Harris
and Scot Shanks and city clerk Sally Oglesby.

Graham's comment became a motion with the second made by Mr Wyatt. Councilman Scot Shanks asked what was the recommendation of engineer Tim Begley and street department supervisor Kevin Music. Begley recommended that the city complete each of the four corners of the intersection at the bottom of Water Tank Hill when the new traffic light goes in or some of the sidewalk would be impassable.

After some additional discussion, Mr. Graham withdrew his motion.

Crossville Street Department supervisor Music said that his sidewalk crew was currently working along Industrial Drive at Centennial Park and since the council had directed them to move forward with phase 2 and they needed to come to a stopping point before they could move to Downtown. Music also said that 2 part time positions he is trying to add would be more helpful if they were full time positions instead. Music explained he is having trouble filling those part-time positions.

Music said that if the sidewalks are done and then the lights later would mean new concrete would have to be taken up. “I would rather see this done right, block by block, even if it takes 2 years,” added Music. Councilman Wyatt asked about the paving of Main Street by TDOT. Music said they could come and pave anytime as far as he was concerned. Graham told the council he was getting a lot of phone calls about the condition of Main Street.

Begley said he was concerned if TDOT went ahead and paved that there would be problems with storm water drainage creating what he called “bird baths” at some of the corners. He added that in order to be ADA complaint, some of the corners will require bump outs that could complicate the project. Because Main Street has been repaved several times, TDOT plans to mill down the road several lawyers before repaving but Begley said if that was done before the sidewalks are complete then they would have to match up with the current levels and again create problems.

Wyatt asked how soon TDOT could start on paving and Begley said he didn't know but thought it would probably be sometime in 2018 before it could be done. As the decision became less and less clear, Mr. Shanks said it sounded like a work session was needed. With a budget work session tentatively scheduled for April 20 the sidewalk topic will be added to the budget meeting when ever it is set.

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