City receives TDOT grant for Tweetsie Trail improvements

Published 9:12 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

Using the Tweetsie Trail could become a lot safer thanks to a $257,735 Tennessee Department of Transportation Grant awarded to the City of Elizabethton this week.

The grant will be used to make safety improvements at several Tweetsie Trail road crossings through the city, Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman said.

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“When we wrote the grant, the big thing we were focused on was safety,” Hartman said. “The grant will make it safer for trail users to cross some of the busier intersections across town.”

The project includes pedestrian safety improvements to at-grade crossings of the Tweetsie Trail adjacent to West Elk Avenue, such as at Hudson Drive, Bemberg Road, McArthur Ave and Holly Lane.

The Tweetsie Trail intersection at West G Street will see the most changes from the project. A raised median and on-street parallel parking will be installed at that intersection.

“This project will provide a safer connection to the residential areas, schools, retail and medical facilities located in the immediate vicinity,” Hartman said. “These are some of the more dangerous intersections in the city because of the high traffic in these areas. The West G Street intersection has a wide road, with wide lanes so improvements are needed there.”

Other intersection improvements will include improved signs, and possibly warning signals to alert drivers to pedestrians in the walkways.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced the award on Tuesday.

“Improving our facilities for walking, biking, and transit is critical to the continued growth and success of our towns and cities, and these grants help make our communities across Tennessee more livable by creating more transportation options,” Haslam said.

Examples of projects eligible under the Multimodal Access Fund Program include sidewalks and pedestrian crossing improvements, bus shelters, park and ride facilities, and bicycle lanes. Multimodal Access projects will be funded 95 percent by TDOT, with 5 percent funded with local matching funds. Total individual project costs will not exceed $1 million.

“Our responsibilities as a transportation agency go far beyond building roads and bridges,” Commissioner Schroer said. “Providing safe access for different modes of transportation ultimately creates a more complete and diverse network for our users. These projects are also extremely cost effective, which allows TDOT to make improvements in more areas across the state.”

With the city’s matching 5 percent, which is $13,500, the total project will be around $271,000, Hartman said.

No start date for the project has been set yet since a few more steps need to be completed before work can begin. Bids for the project need to be collected, right of ways secured and contracts completed, Hartman said.