PHOTO: Design Documents from Barge Design Solutions show the proposed widening of Columbia Pike. / Photo courtesy of Barge Design Solutions
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The single most trafficked road in Thompson’s Station is far and away Columbia Pike, with around 30,000 drivers using it daily to traverse in and through the town.
Given the immense amount of traffic for what is only a two-lane road up to Critz Lane, as well as a continually booming population, town leaders elected to plan out the future of transportation in Thompson’s Station by way of a new Major Thoroughfare Plan, which based on a final draft presentation Tuesday, looks to prioritize the widening of Columbia Pike.
Essentially a growth design document for the town, the Major Thoroughfare Plan outlines transportation needs, amenities and safety projects, with this particular plan outlining that growth through the year 2040.
The plan was created by both by Barge Solutions and by members of the community through two public meetings, and includes a list of 21 projects listed as recommendations for the town to address, in order of importance. The recommendations, which include a total of 68.52 miles worth of road projects, are separated into three groups; roadway widening, realignment, and connection projects.
The list is also categorized by priority, with the widening of Columbia Pike, Thompson’s Station Road East improvements, and the first phase of off-street greenways being at the top.
For Columbia Pike, the plan recommends the 4.59 mile stretch from the town’s southern border to its northern border be expanded to four lanes. Additionally, a median would be implemented to both deter speeding and to maintain the routes rural character. Multimodal paths are also recommended along the entire route, which include six foot sidewalks and five foot bike lanes on both sides of the road.
“We are proposing widening Columbia [Pike],” said Jonathan Smith with Barge Solutions. “What we are proposing to do with this is a median dividing four-lane section, so you’ll have two lanes in each direction and a grass or planted median going down the pike. The benefit of that is it gives you really the functionality of what people would think of as a five-lane, [while] keeping some sort of rural type character with that landscaping… we’re trying to have that balance.”
The expansion also lines up well with Spring Hill’s own plans to widen Main Street – the portion of U.S. 31 just south of Columbia Pike – to five lanes from Miles Johnson Parkway up to Buckner Road, creating an almost five miles of five to four mile roadway.
Beyond Columbia Pike, the plan also calls for “greenway trails [to] be included running in parallel with the majority of the recommended new roadway segments, particularly on the western side of the Town.”
Plans to improve the town’s transportation network couldn’t come a moment sooner, either. From 2000 to 2010, the town’s population exploded by more than 70% from 1,283 to 2194. From 2010 to the most recent census count in 2016, that growth has continued, with the population growing by 115%, from 2,194 to 4,726.
Much like Spring Hill’s own Major Thoroughfare Plan, the recommendations will be used to guide Thompson’s Station’s transportation network in the years to come, with the widening of Columbia Pike looking to be among the first of the projects to get underway.
To view the final draft of the new Major Thoroughfare Plan in its entirety, click here.