As one of the major north-south connectors in Williamson County, Franklin Road is one of the most highly traveled state roads in the area, connecting the areas of Thompson’s Station, Franklin and Brentwood along one route.
The road, which serves as an alternate to I-65, averages approximately 23,000 vehicles per day, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This number is expected to rise in the future as growth continues in the area.
Williamson County’s population is expected to double by 2040 to more than 530,000 residents, according to the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
To prepare for the growth, the cities of Franklin and Brentwood are working with state agencies to increase capacity on Franklin Road with three widening projects planned over the next three years.
The largest of these projects is already underway in Brentwood, which will widen the road from two lanes to five lanes, including a 12-foot dedicated center turn lane, according to Kathryn Schulte, TDOT Community Relations officer for Region 3.
“The city of Brentwood is thankful that the TDOT widening project is underway,” said Deanna Lambert, director of community relations for the city of Brentwood. “Along with the interstate, Franklin Road is Brentwood’s main north-south corridor. Once there are multiple lanes and multiuse path through the area, it will improve the flow of traffic and allow another option for bicycle commuting.”
The city of Brentwood oversaw engineering and right of way acquisition, and TDOT contributed $26.7 million for construction, Schulte said. Utility relocation and grading along the roadway has already begun. The project is expected to wrap up in late 2021, according to TDOT.
With work on Franklin Road already underway to the north, the city of Franklin is also preparing to make improvements to north of downtown.
A city of Franklin project will widen the road from two to three lanes from north of the Harpeth River to Harpeth Industrial Court near The Factory at Franklin. The $18.1 million project was funded as part of Franklin’s 2017-26 Capital Improvement Project List. Bidding for the project is expected to begin this summer, with construction slated to begin in summer or fall, according to city documents.
The bridge over Harpeth River will also be replaced to help reduce flooding in the river watershed. The preliminary design for the project was approved Feb. 12 by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen. City engineer Paul Holzen said the bridge work will not interfere with the construction start for the road widening.
“They’re two totally separate projects, we’re proceeding without [the bridge widening], if they line up, they line up, but I know Franklin Road will be under construction in advance of this bridge,” Holzen said.
In addition to the two projects on Franklin Road, the city is also planning for future construction along the route where Franklin Road becomes Columbia Avenue. The project, just over a mile long, has long been included in NAMPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan and in 2017, the BOMA approved a plan to widen the route from three to five lanes. NAMPO approved up to $6 million in funding for engineering and right of way acquisition and another $15 million for construction.
As one of the only three routes connecting Franklin to south Williamson County, improvements are designed for 20 years of growth, at which point the area is expected to see 25,400 cars traveling through daily, according to the city of Franklin. The project also aims to improve safety in the area, as the corridor experiences 7.72 collisions per million vehicle miles, about three times the state average, according to city documents.
The project is still in the design phase, and right of way acquisition is underway. While a construction start date has not yet been announced, it is estimated to begin in 2021.