PHOTO: For this video story, we take you to some of Spring Hill’s major roads on foot.
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The city of Spring Hill has exploded in population over the past decade, growing from 27,519 residents in 2009 to over 40,000 in 2018. To put that in perspective, that means the city saw, on average, seven new residents every two days for the last 10 years.
With any big population boom comes a certain amount of growing pains, and Spring Hill is no exception.
Traffic is often the single most talked about issue among city residents, with Main Street being among the worst places to walk. And while the city is putting plans into motion to rectify its traffic problems with such projects as the widening of Main Street, the widening of Duplex Road, as well as the multi-million dollar interchange project on I-65, one lesser talked about issue is its sidewalks — or rather, the lack thereof.
Many of the city’s major thoroughfares; Kedron Road, Port Royal Road, and even significant portions of Main Street towards the northern edge of the city, are all completely without sidewalks, with some even forcing those on foot off onto steep inclines and brush.
In some cases, traversal on foot is not even possible. For residents hoping to travel north or south on Kedron Road, just south of Saturn Parkway, a two-lane bridge with no shoulders stops any foot travel dead in its tracks — save for those willing to take a swim across a stream.
While safety is an issue facing any street without sidewalks, this is of particular importance along Mahlon Moore Road, a road that connects the city’s two newest schools — Battle Creek Middle and Elementary Schools — to Kedron Road, near King’s Creek Golf Course. For the entire stretch of Mahlon Moore Road from Kedron Road all the way south to Battle Creek Way, there are no sidewalks, with steep, grassy inclines on both sides.
Spring Hill’s sister city Franklin currently has approximately 400 miles of sidewalks, with the city requiring new development to include sidewalks since the early 1980s, according to Communications Director Milissa Reierson.
While Spring Hill had no such stipulation on new development until the mid 2000s, the latest Unified Development Code (UDC), which was passed by the city in August of 2018, does indeed require the construction of sidewalks with new development. Section 16.6 of the UDC reads that sidewalks must be included as part of any “arterial, collector, or local street,” “or as determined by the Planning Commission during subdivision approval.” The exception to this rule are developments in areas zoned as rural agricultural, rural residential and agricultural.
The city also implemented its Neighborhood Sidewalk Program back in 2014, a program that takes community input as to where new sidewalks should be constructed. Since its inception, the program has seen more than three miles of sidewalk built, with the city spending $143,740 in the 2018 fiscal year alone. Residents with ideas for sidewalks are encouraged to submit their ideas once the next round of submissions begins, which will be the second week of September through Oct. 31.
So while Spring Hill still faces some serious walkability issues, the measures do seem to be in place for an improvement on that front in the future. For the time being, however, those looking to traverse the city on foot are advised to take caution — or better yet, stick to behind the wheel for travel.