November 29, 2022
By: Dwayne Page
A Win-Win for Smithville
Christmas came early for the City of Smithville Monday with the announcement that it has been awarded grants for two projects totaling more than $1.5 million to install sidewalks/crosswalks and to replace deteriorating sewer lines. The Upper Cumberland Development District applied for the grants on behalf of the city.
The largest project is to put down sidewalks on Highway 70 east from near the intersection of Highway 56 (South Congress Boulevard) and to install high visibility crosswalks and ADA compliant curb ramps in the areas where Highway 70 intersects with Bright Hill Road and Colvert Lake Road. The total cost is $934,000 but thanks to the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Access Grant, the city will receive $888,000 for this project with a local grant match of $46,000.
The $600,000 sewer line rehab project is to replace 3,800 hundred linear feet of gravity sewer lines and manholes in the Bright Hill and Morgan Creek subsystem areas to keep excessive surface water from entering the wastewater treatment plant especially during heavy rains. Half of the cost ($300,000) will be funded through a Community Development Block Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The City of Smithville will fund the other half ($300,000) as its local grant match.
The matching portion for both projects will be provided from the city’s available general fund and water and sewer fund reserves.
TDOT’s Multimodal Access Grant is a state-funded program created to support the transportation needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users through infrastructure projects that address existing gaps along state routes.
“Through the Tennessee Department of Transportation, this is a project to install sidewalks and crosswalks from the intersection of state route 56 and US highway 70 and it goes east toward Sparta for one mile to the corner of Highway 70 and Moog Boulevard. They will also install high visibility crosswalks and ADA compliant curb ramps in the areas where Highway 70 intersects with Bright Hill Road and Colvert Lake Road. The project totals $934,000 of which $888,000 will be covered by the grant and $46,000 by the City of Smithville for their matching portion. The math will tell you this is a very good opportunity for the city to lay down some sidewalks,” said Tommy Lee, Deputy Director of the Upper Cumberland Development District who also serves as the planner for the City of Smithville.
The city applied for the grant at least once before but had been denied.
“This is great news for the City of Smithville,” said Mayor Josh Miller.
“We found out just before Thanksgiving that we were going to be successful in getting about 1,700 feet of sidewalks and some crosswalks. As part of the TDOT Multi Modal Grant the sidewalk and crosswalks have to be built along a state highway. It would have been great to have done it on our city streets, but we couldn’t with this grant,” said Mayor Miller.
This will be welcome news to many people who often walk along Highway 70 east but have to stay in the grassy areas on the shoulder of the road said Mayor Miller.
“Even when they were applying for this grant, they took pictures of where there was grass worn down where people had been walking along Highway 70 with no sidewalks,” added Mayor Miller.
This is also not the first time that the city has sought CDBG grant funding for sewer rehab.
“We have submitted this grant application several times and not been awarded and each time the city kept adding a little bit more money into it putting more skin in the game to reduce what they call cost per person to make it more competitive,” said Lee.
Although the sidewalk/crosswalks and sewer rehab grants have been approved, it will still be several months before the work can begin.
“First, they have to do what’s known as an environmental review record to make sure they are not disturbing any historical landmarks or any wetlands, etc. There is more to it but that is the gist of it,” said Lee. “Once that environmental record is completed and approved then they will send in their official plans for the project and then once that is approved, they can start taking bids. As for the sewer rehab that process usually takes from 3-6 months so by the summer of 2023 this project will probably get started. That is typically how those work. The timeline for the sidewalk/crosswalk project is less clear but could take longer,” said Lee.
“I want to thank the Upper Cumberland Development District for their help in writing these grants and for what they do and also to the city aldermen for their support in allowing the city to apply and authorize funding for these grants and to city administrator Hunter Hendrixson,” said Mayor Miller.
“Before I leave office, I want my administration to be known as the one that spent more in infrastructure than any other city administration. With these grants along with the money we have allocated from the city’s share of ARP and TDEC grant funds, we are being to do a lot of needed infrastructure projects for the city. We are very blessed to have been able to receive all these grants,” added Mayor Miller.
“The UCDD assisted the City of Smithville on both of these projects,” said Lee. “Marcie Ackerman of UCDD wrote the CDBG grant application and Silas Stoddard of UCDD wrote the TDOT Multi Modal Grant,” he said.