State and regional leaders marked the completion of the $45.1 million Mack C. Hatcher Memorial Parkway northwest extension Dec. 13 with a ribbon cutting on Hwy. 96.

The road, which opened to traffic Nov. 29, extends the perimeter highway from Hillsboro Road just outside downtown Franklin to Hwy. 96, and is part of a plan to build an eventual loop road encircling the city, according to Paul Degges, Tennessee Department of Transportation chief engineer and deputy commissioner.

Former Franklin Mayor John Schroer told a crowd of more than 100 the benefit of the road is evident to drivers, in reduced traffic congestion and shorter trips for people traveling between west Franklin and Cool Springs.

Schroer credited Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, and state Sen. Jack Johnson for their work getting funding for the project along with the late Rep. Charles Sargent Jr., R-Franklin.

“This project is really, really important for this region,” Schroer said. “Infrastructure brings businesses to communities. We’ve had so many businesses come to this community because we have sufficient infrastructure.”

The ceremony also honored Sargent with the dedication of a half-mile bridge over the Harpeth River in recognition of his championing the proposed road for much of his 22-year tenure as a state lawmaker from 1996 to 2018, officials said.

Sargent served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War era and served on the Williamson County Commission in the 1990s.

Franklin Vice Mayor Brandy Blanton, who first proposed Sargent's name for the bridge two years ago, told the crowd that Sargent deserved the tribute for his decades-long commitment as a public official to funding education and other needs in Williamson County.

“He was a true servant leader,” Blanton said. “Charles was a consensus building, and he had no trouble crossing the aisle. It wasn’t about political party, it was about getting things done and serving the community and the state.”

The half-hour ceremony ended with the presentation of a road sign to Sargent's widow, Nancy Sargent, and other family members. The family then joined state lawmakers and local officials for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Whitson said the future unfunded phase to build a southeast extension of the road will be another boon to help accommodate Franklin’s fast economic and population growth.

Williamson County has seen a 35 % increase of residents between 2010 and 2020, with Franklin’s population growing by 33.3 % to more than 83,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It really comes down to infrastructure, and this project is incredibly important to our city,” Whitson said.