The evolution of roads

Wendy SmithFarragut, Feature, The Farragut Insider

A road is more than just a route from here to there. It’s the path to our front doors and the roads we take home each day are as familiar as the dog waiting to go outside or the comfy chair in the living room. Our roads are the fabric of our town.

Just as we may not notice how threadbare our favorite chair has become, we may not realize when the roads near our home need to be updated. After all, we’re familiar with each curve and bump; we can safely navigate the obstacles. But what about those other roads – the neighborhood streets that aren’t part of our own beaten path? Do we drive on those and wish they were safer for us, for our children?

There are currently two major road projects underway in the Town of Farragut. Both projects – Virtue Road and Union Road – have been on the Town’s radar for several years. Planners know what structures are needed to safely support a particular volume of traffic, and they can estimate future traffic volume based on planned development. In a residential community like Farragut, “Field of Dreams” wisdom holds true: if you build it, they will come.

Projects that receive federal funding are required to meet certain standards; TDOT requires Union Road to have 11-foot lanes with curb and gutter for the Town to receive 80 percent funding for the project. The Town has the additional standard of adding a safe pedestrian route to any road improvement project. A sidewalk meets this need, but is inferior to a greenway. People just feel safer walking and cycling if they are separated from vehicles.

Pedestrian connectivity is not only in harmony with the Town’s Strategic Plan, it’s one of Farragut’s most popular features. The Town’s branding survey (2015), park survey (2016) and McFee Park master plan survey (2017) all indicate that the community values greenways and wants more of them.

There’s no doubt that those who own property adjacent to road improvement projects pay the highest price for increased safety and amenities. Even when projects are contained within the Town’s right-of-way, residents are understandably sorry to lose trees or greenspace that they have cherished and maintained as their own. Others are asked to sell a portion of their property and reduce the cushion between their homes and the roadway. While there’s no doubt that smoother, wider roads are ultimately safer, the cost of “the greater good” falls primarily on the shoulders of these residents.

The Town can’t choose not to improve roads that were built to service a few hundred cars per day and now service a few thousand. Adding greenways alongside these new roads will also serve future generations.

As long as Farragut continues to grow, its residents will continue to see ongoing changes. Connectivity is one of the features that draws new residents, and new residents make our community vibrant and strengthen our work force. Let’s embrace them and the necessary changes that come with them.

Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the Town of Farragut.

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