NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The highest priority road redesign for pedestrians in the state is located right here in Nashville.
“This is the first big improvement that you will see. You can see there’s a concrete island, we’ve got to add crosswalk markings, adding curb ramps,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) civil engineer manager Veda Nguyen while pointing to plans highlighting a stretch of West Trinity Lane near Brick Church Pike.
It’s the first for TDOT’s Pedestrian Road Safety Initiative (PRSI) project and for Nguyen.
“I started two years ago really trying, really focused, on getting projects to construction,” she said.
As part of PRSI, TDOT teams review the following data statewide:
- Five years of pedestrian crash history to identify dangerous areas
- Existing infrastructure
- Pedestrian demand
- Social equity
From here, the team selects 10 sites yearly. The planning phase takes the longest.
“I think a lot of the public may think like, why haven’t you done that already?” Nguyen explained. “Something that may seem fairly minor, like a sidewalk project, may take up to three years to deliver if there are impacts to the right away, or somebody’s property or utilities.”
Next comes plans for construction that move into the letting process which is when construction companies bid on jobs.
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“We’ve already submitted that [Trinity Lane] project for turn-in, and we’re looking to get into a February letting,” Nguyen continued.
It’s a major accomplishment for the team that’s been challenged by changing price tags.
“Inflation rates that we’re seeing in construction are really, really high. So projects that were budgeted for a certain amount… we’ve seen some estimates double,” she said.
In addition, there are supply chain issues.
“It can take up to a month sometimes just to get a signal pole,” Nguyen continued.
It’s those intricacies that hold up projects.
“When it comes to safety those are immediate issues and concerns that the public has, so they want an immediate answer,” Nguyen explained. “I’m passionate about safety. And I can only move so quickly. So it’s frustrating. I’m frustrated with the public, I guess I would say.”
However, she promises, she’s determined to get the jobs done.