Monday, June 17, 2024
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Cookeville Considering Project Without T-DOT

Cookeville considering taking on a project to add sidewalks along 12th Street without additional help from T-DOT.

City Manager James Mills said the state approved Cookeville for a $1 million grant several years ago. He said as costs have risen and timelines have been extended in similar projects like the Spring Street sidewalk project, the city may be able to complete this at a lesser expense than its $50,000 match.

“This is a very important project and we want to see it done,” Mills said, “We’re just trying to figure out how to best spend tax-payer dollars to do this project. We don’t want to be wasteful, and if we can do it cheaper by doing it ourselves, and take all of these additional layers out that are required by a grant, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The project would build sidewalks along the north side of 12th Street, across from the Tech Campus, from Dixie Avenue to Willow Avenue. Mills said a path has been worn out where students have been walking along the side of the road without sidewalk.

“Tennessee Tech’s very important the city of Cookeville,” Mills said. “We want the campus to be beautiful and they have spent so much money on making the campus beautiful, that anywhere on the periphery that the city can participate and help not only beautify the campus but make it much safer to the students and those visiting the university, we’re committed to doing that.”

Mills said if the city backs out of TDOT Multi-Modal grant, the project could be completed in 2025, if not late 2024. He said the grant required that the project branch off of a state route, so the city connected the project to Willow Avenue. He said the several hundred feet of sidewalk on Willow Avenue included in the original design could be removed to make the project even more cost-effective if the city does it without the grant, as that stretch of road already has a wide shoulder.

Mills said the city could still use the majority of the designs.

“If we do decide, and we hope to decide in a timely manner, to walk away from this, we’ll still be on the hook for a small cost of all the engineering work that has already been done and some of the environmental reviews that have already been done, but it still may be cheaper for us to turn the grant back to TDOT,” Mills said.

T-DOT has been great about helping to make these sidewalk projects financially viable, Mills said, by allowing Cookeville to break them into sections and work through them piece by piece. He said with this particular project, finding a place to break the project up between Willow Avenue and Dixie Avenue could be a challenge.

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