NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor John Cooper, along with representatives from the Nashville Department of Transportation (NDOT) and councilmembers Emily Benedict and Tom Cash, announced a new policy that will keep sidewalks and bikeways open during construction.

The announcement was made Friday morning on Vanderbilt University’s campus, adjacent to a protected pedestrian path installed as part of ongoing construction on West End Avenue.

“Making Nashville a more walkable, bike-friendly, livable city for all neighborhoods is critical for a city on the move like ours,” said Mayor John Cooper. “These new regulations will ensure that as Nashville grows, constructions projects can no longer keep sidewalks and bike lanes closed for weeks and weeks at a time. Protecting Nashvillians’ ability to safely and easily travel around town is essential, and through today’s policy change and eventually additional Council legislation, we will dramatically reduce the amount of time development project sites can obstruct the public right-a-way without a plan to protect pedestrians and cyclists.”

The policy sets a seven-day maximum permit length for construction-related closures of multimodal infrastructure across the city for projects that have not implemented a solution to keeping the right-of-way, such as a scaffolding structure over a sidewalk. It also applies to all new permit requestors and those hoping to renew expiring permits.

The policy will also use a different application process for developers and contractors who believe a longer-term closure is necessary for construction to be completed. Those variances will be considered by officials tasked with assessing temporary encroachments into the right-of-way.

“Keeping sidewalks open during construction projects when possible will benefit all residents and I’m proud to support setting this new standard for projects in Nashville,” said President of Giarratana, LLC and Nashville Developer Tony Giarratana. “As those of us in the industry build high quality developments that enhance our streets, we want to protect and keep open the existing infrastructure.”

Legislation in the coming weeks is expected to codify the policy change and extend to other right-of-way obstacles like special events. NDOT has also hired 16 new right-of-way inspectors this year.

“Keeping public right-of-way accessible to all is a huge priority for our department,” said NDOT Director Diana Alarcon. “Safety for people walking, biking, and using transit is critical to our mission, and we’re glad to partner with Mayor Cooper on such an important policy to ensure Nashville stays a great place to live. We’re also grateful to partners in the development community—including Vanderbilt University—who are taking action to ensure this policy is adhered to.”