A new permit policy will keep Nashville sidewalks and bike lanes clear from construction

Sidewalk closed.jpeg
Posted at 4:40 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 21:33:21-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The cranes, tractors and orange cones may all give way to a sign of change, but there's one element Mayor John Cooper wants to keep the same.

Cooper said construction projects account for nearly 90% of the sidewalk and bike lane closures in Nashville, and that is what he wants to stop.

Currently developers can apply for a 30 day permits to block sidewalks and bike lines. The Nashville Department of Transportation officials and the government reviews these permits every 30 days and can extend them without limit.

Cooper said that will end.

"All newly permitted construction projects can no longer obtain permits that obstruct you the public's right away to our sidewalks, bike lines and other public spaces for a period longer than seven days without a plan to keep the public space open," said Cooper.

If developers need more than seven days for a project, they must apply for a variance application.

Those variances will be considered by a governing body tasked with assessing temporary encroachments into the right-of-way.

Permits issued before to August 19, 2022 will be honored for the permitted amount of time.

Once the permit has expired, closures will be subject to the new policy.

People walking in Nashville said this is a great start to help keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe.

"You have to worry about that more than anything because someone may be they may be trying to dodge something and they don't see you," said resident Reginald Perkins, who has spent his entire life Nashville.

He said he doesn't remember when construction was booming like this.

"I’m not used it. It’s so much building going on and so much have to do you have to detour here detour there, go around. It’s really more a mess than it has been," Perkins said.

Perkins says he sometimes feels safe walking down the street.

"In clear sidewalks — yes. Walking toward or around construction — no."

Cooper says legislation in the coming weeks is expected to codify this policy change, and extend to other right-of-way obstacles such as special events.

In addition to regulations limiting the length of construction-related multimodal infrastructure closures, NDOT has recently brought on new right-of-way inspectors, adding 16 additional inspectors in 2022.

The additional staffing has more than doubled the amount of right-of-way enforcement in the city.