RPM set to make its report to TAC on Highway 31 Monday

RPM set to make its report to TAC on Highway 31 Monday

RPM Transportation Consultants will present their report on optimizing traffic signals along Highway 31 to the Spring Hill Transportation Advisory Committee at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

RPM Transportation Consultants will present their report on optimizing traffic signals along Highway 31 to the Spring Hill Transportation Advisory Committee Monday evening at City Hall.

The report is the result of several months of study and research conducted at the behest of the city.

In May, Spring Hill city staff retained RPM to complete a Signal Timing Optimization Study for US 31 / State Route 6 (Main Street) in Spring Hill. Alderman Jonathan Duda, a member of the TAC, has been impressed with RPM’s work and is hopeful that their findings will enhance the flow of traffic along the busy street.

“[RPM is] dedicated strictly to transportation,” Duda said. “[They] have a reputation for implementing innovative solutions that are grounded in the latest research and transportation theory. Their report on the existing conditions [covers] the 11 signalized intersections, [as well as] an additional 26 un-signalized intersections on Main Street.”

With the results of RPM’s study, the city expects to be able to make some short-term improvements on 31, while keeping longer-term improvements in view.

“We need to understand what kind of improvements new signal timings can bring and their limits,” Duda said. “There are things we can do to optimize traffic flow. But [this study] only accounts for what lanes exist now.”

Given the existing limits of the road and its various intersections, the possibility of widening it to increase capacity has been discussed frequently in city meetings. It’s an idea that Duda acknowledges as a desirable possibility.

Alderman Jonathan Duda

“People need to understand that these changes [proposed in the report] will only optimize [traffic] to the extent of the lanes that already exist,” Duda said. “These are much needed short-term changes. Certain programs were not synced, some equipment was identified as needing to be replaced. But in the long term, we have significant improvements that need to be accomplished and that will only come with widening.”

Duda is particularly pleased with the regional efforts that have been made by the leadership of both Thompson’s Station and Spring Hill. The administrations of both cities have spearheaded much of the recent work done to improve traffic all along the highway.

“This is happening because of [Spring Hill] Mayor Rick Graham and [Thompson’s Station] Mayor Cory Napier,” Duda said. “They are the ones keeping this moving forward, along with our two communities.”

Cooperation between Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station is necessary, but not sufficient, to accomplish long-term improvements on the busy highway. Duda believes that Monday’s report and the implementation of its recommendations represent just one step in a far larger, and longer-term, program.

“Last year, the City of Spring Hill approached Thompson’s Station [to talk about this issue],” Duda said. “As a result, the two cities formed a Transportation Task Force. Those of us involved in it spent all of 2013 developing recommendations on what [the two cities] can do together.”

The main outcome of the task force was the formation of what is known as a Corridor Management Agreement, one of three that now exist in Tennessee. The agreement is an acknowledgement that in order to make lasting improvements to 31, it will be necessary to develop consent among not only Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station, but also with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Williamson and Maury County governments, and the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“It’s a simple fact that TDOT is not going to play referee between multiple communities on transportation disputes,” Duda said. “There are simply too many needs across the state, and too few resources available, for us to afford to have TDOT inserted in the middle of the situation. That is the bottom line.”

Duda feels that the new Corridor Management Agreement will be the best way to communicate to the public why the need for improvement on Highway 31 is so vital.

The competiton for funding is so great across the state,” Duda said. “We cannot afford not to have a united front. I’ve seen people in our communities make great strides in the last few years to help build trust between Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station. The administrations of both towns have participated. As consensus grows, I believe we can layer that with the leadership of our counties, the TDOT, and the MPO.”

RPM is expected make further suggestions Monday on other short-term improvements, including re-striping and intersections to be painted.

Implementation of proposed signal timings is scheduled for October. Assistant City Administrator Dan Allen has said that city staff expect to have their own final report on the signal timings ready to present to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen by early November.

“Solving traffic on Main Street is by far the number one issue in our community,” Duda said. “It’s kind of like an onion. There’s a lot of complexity to it, but if you peel back the layers, you can get down to the core and begin to piece it back together. I’m hopeful that the leadership of all the relevant entities can work together on this issue to make it more understandable for everyone.”

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for BrentWord Communications. Contact him at greg@springhillhomepage.com or follow him on Twitter @JinkersonGreg.

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