NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While many people in Nashville wish they had access to more sidewalks in their neighborhood, the projects are expensive.
Now the Nashville Department of Transportation (NDOT) is using a new process to speed up the construction of new sidewalks while saving money.
"In some instances, when projects don’t require right-of-way acquisition, and existing curbs and gutter are in place, we are able to implement the rapid build process and minimize design and engineering," a spokesperson said in a statement. "These projects have significantly expedited timelines and much lower average cost."
NDOT said the approach can't be used everywhere in the county, but officials will use it whenever possible.
The projects are funded through NDOT's sidewalk program and do not take away funds for other budgeted projects.
The latest example is a sidewalk under construction on Elm Hill Pike in Donelson. The first phase of the project was completed in just a matter of days. Eventually, the sidewalk will run from the bus stop near Atrium Way to McGavock Pike. Because of the landscape of the area, it qualified to be a rapid build project.
"They can lay down the concrete, not have to move polls, or mess with stormwater infrastructure that is already there, and voila we have a functional, well-done sidewalk, right here," said Council Member Jeff Syracuse, who represents Donelson. "This is actually going to help save lives."
Syracuse said Elm Hill Pike has been the site of several crashes and near misses, and at least one fatal accident involving a pedestrian. The busy road doesn't have much of a shoulder and isn't ideal for pedestrians walking to hotels nearby.
"Now you finally have a safe sidewalk for people to use, and it's done with less cost to taxpayers," said Syracuse.
Syracuse said he hears frequent requests for more sidewalks from people in his district. He said the problem is the projects can be expensive due to stormwater infrastructure and utility poles, however, if an area doesn't have those elements, there is no reason it shouldn't have a sidewalk.
"This highlights that it can be done," said Syracuse.
For the latest on sidewalk projects across Davidson County, you can view this interactive map.