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Spring Hill is now on track to eventually see a new Interstate 65 interchange constructed at a proposed extension of Buckner Road to provide much needed access on the Williamson County end of town.
In a letter to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has given conceptual approval to TDOT’s request for I-65 interchange access at the proposed Buckner Road Extension on behalf of the City of Spring Hill. To create this important gateway, the City plans to extend Buckner Road nearly a mile east to I-65. Currently, Saturn Parkway (S.R. 396) is the only I-65 interchange leading into Spring Hill.
This significant approval means the City has eight years to begin construction on the interchange, and allows the project to proceed to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase, an environmental analysis of the project; subsequently, the project also will move into the design phase. The initial estimated cost for the overall project is roughly $28 million.
“This is an exciting day for Spring Hill. A massive amount of hard work has been put into this project by a lot of people from numerous agencies, and this announcement is one we have been waiting to hear for several years,” said Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham. “This interchange will create a gateway into Spring Hill, result in major improvements to our local roadways, and give us what’s needed to attract a wide range of new corporate office investment so that more of our residents can work where they live. This starts an eight-year clock to construction, or else we have to start this process over, and that can’t happen.”
The BOMA will be taking steps to move forward with the NEPA study and preliminary design, which is anticipated to take up to two years. The City will explore opportunities to expedite that process to move the project forward as quickly as possible.
The interchange can be seen as the centerpiece for a true regional transportation solution, said Assistant City Administrator Chuck Downham. For the City to realize the full benefit of the interchange, the City will be moving forward with the eventual widening of Buckner Lane and Buckner Road so that when the interchange opens, the infrastructure will be in place to support it.
The long-awaited FHWA approval comes after two lengthy studies were funded by the City of Spring Hill and Williamson County to determine the feasibility of the project, with city staff and elected officials working closely with TDOT, FHWA, and Congressional representatives to ensure the process continued forward movement.
The BOMA will be exploring a range of potential funding strategies for the project, including private investment. At least one major Spring Hill development has partly hinged on the approval of the I-65 interchange. Without a new interchange, the appropriate transportation infrastructure would not be in place to support the office component of the major mixed-use development planned for the 775-acre Alexander Farm property along I-65 and Buckner Road. When the BOMA gave rezoning approval to the development in May, a Special Assessment District was set up to aid in funding improvements along Buckner Lane and Buckner Road integral to traffic circulation to the interchange. The assessment district requires the developer to partner with the City and share in costs relating to transportation improvements fronting the Alexander Farm property.