Winchester applied for a multimodal access grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation on Oct. 10 to make infrastructure improvements along Lynchburg Road/State Route 16 near Twin Creeks Resort and Marina.
Grant Coordinator Yvonne Stewart updated the City Council on Oct. 8 about the grant’s details during a public-hearing segment of the meeting.
She said the project will total slightly less than $1 million with Winchester being required to chip in about $50,000. She said she expects the city to receive word about whether it receives approval sometime early next year.
Stewart told the council that residential development in the area has increased traffic flow on the road between Girton and Shepard streets, existing sidewalks are not Americans-with-Disabilities-Act compliant, and the road needs a shoulder and additional sidewalks to ensure safety.
The project will also include drainage and curb upgrades.
Winchester Airport Manager Zachary Colescott told the council he is a resident in a nearby subdivision, and the improvements are greatly needed. He said the sidewalks will improve pedestrian safety.
The project has received support letters from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tennessee; State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma; State Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester; Winchester Mayor Terry Harrell; and Lisa Cross, South Central East Rural Planning Organization coordinator.
DesJarlais explained his position on the issue.
“If awarded this grant, the city can continue to improve its infrastructure for the residents of Winchester as well as the residents of surrounding cities and communities that commute through Winchester every day,” DesJarlais said in a letter to TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright. “The many Tennesseans who pass through Winchester by way of major roadways, like U.S. Route 41A and Tennessee State Route 16, depend on the city to ensure that safety standards are followed and infrastructure is reliable.
“The grant also provides resources to more holistically improve the quality of life for the community. Providing more recreational opportunities for constituents, as well as reliable forms of transportation, will energize the great people of Winchester, bringing potential for significant economic development in the region.”
Bowling echoed DesJarlais’ assessment in a separate letter to Bright, explaining the significance of the project.
“The proposed project will provide increased safety for residents and visitors and is necessitated by past and expected future growth,” Bowling said. “In addition, the project will be economically beneficial by providing tourists with better access to area shops and restaurants.
“The project will also help to promote a healthy lifestyle by providing residents and visitors with a safe walking environment.”
Harrell said Winchester has been fortunate to experience tremendous economic growth along Tims Ford Lake’s shoreline with the Twin Creeks development. But, he said the road has safety hazards that the city has needed to improve for years.
Harrell said the road has no shoulders and has open drainage ditches.
“This combination has proven to be deadly,” he said. “There is a high rate of accidents on this section of road.”
Harrell said Winchester plans to correct the service area in three construction phases, and the first is on the section from Girton Street to Shepard Street.
“Budget restraints have hindered the city from correcting the problems,” he said, adding that grants are much-needed to accomplish the work.
Cross added her perspective from a more regional standpoint.
“The South Central East Rural Planning Organization would like to offer its support of the proposed project as we agree it will provide tremendous benefit to the region’s overall transportation and accessibility program,” she said. “The development of more pedestrian-friendly downtown areas will provide more access to pedestrians and help reduce vehicular traffic, which is conducive to a more efficient and safe transportation system.”
Rudder said in a letter to Bright that it is imperative Winchester receive the grant funding.
“I am writing to lend my strong support to the application of the city of Winchester’s 2019 Multimodal Access Grant Funds,” she said. “These funds are crucial to the city to improve a portion of Highway 50 near Twin Creeks Marina.
“If approved, these funds will help to improve curbing, drainage and ADA sidewalks. This upgrade is fundamental to the economic development of this area to provide safer roads and sidewalks to our community. This area of Winchester currently presents a safety hazard to our residents.”
Rudder said the funding will also allow Winchester to promote a more tourist-friendly environment which in return will increase economic opportunities.