NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville has become such a popular destination for visitors Lower Broadway has become very congested. Sidewalks are overcrowded, causing safety issues.
During peak hours, the sidewalks from 1st Avenue, to 5th Avenue overflow with pedestrians. In the last five years 27 people have been hit by cars on that stretch of Broadway.
"We just do not want people crossing where they are not supposed to, or walking in between parked cars," said Chip Knauf from Metro Public Works.
Metro is ready to start a pilot program aimed at creating more space, and making the sidewalks safer for pedestrians.
Public Works will close the parking lane on the five block stretch and put up temporary fencing.
"That overflow, that spill over on that Saturday that you experience, is now going to be in a protected walking area. And that's what we want, we want protection for these pedestrians," Knauf said.
The lane next to the fencing will become a dedicated loading zone, doing away with a through-lane that often has many double parked vehicles that impede traffic.
A lane just for loading and unloading is something musicians who play on Lower Broadway are looking forward to.
"Dedicated loading zone is going to be great. Hopefully it will stay clear of people that don't need it, " said musician John Root.
There will still be two lanes of traffic in both directions on Broadway.
Once the metal fencing is put into place, it will stay there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The pilot program is expected to last up to three months.
"Traffic count shows that'll still work. That's why we're calling it a pilot. We're going to re-do all these numbers, we're going to take some video, do some counts, and at the end of 60 days, 90 days, we'll evaluate whether this worked, didn't work, or if it needs tweaking," Knauf explained.
Clayton Eammelli has been playing his guitar on Lower Broadway for the last decade. He has seen the number of visitors increase during that time.
"On Friday and Saturday nights, there's just not enough space on the sidewalks," Eammelli said. "Something new needs to be tried. Closing down this lane, it might work."
If Public Works makes this a permanent program, the metal fencing will be replaced with a more decorative type of barricade.
The temporary fencing should go up sometime during the second week of July.
Closing down Broadway to all motor traffic is not under consideration at this time. But Knauf said if the number of people visiting Nashville continues to increase, that would be the next logical step.