Clarksville, TN – Beyond the usual council reports I write, I usually try to provide information on other happenings in our city. It has been a while since I have done this so I want to catch you up on what is going on.
Topics include: Clarksville Fire Rescue, Clarksville Police Department, Building and Codes Department, East West Corridor and more.
Clarksville Fire Rescue
Most citizens seldom think about our outstanding Fire Rescue services unless they see them on the way to an incident or a major fire or accident happens and they make the news. However, every month is busy for Fire Rescue and I wanted to pass along some stats for the month of January 2013 as an example.
In January, Fire Rescue responded to 726 incidents. Incidents are not just fires. They include emergency medical service, hazardous condition (no fire), weather events and a variety of service and good intent (citizen observation of an event thought to be dangerous, but upon investigation was non-threatening; an example is someone saw smoke/fog/dust and thought a fire was in progress) calls. It is not uncommon to have 700 to almost 900 incident calls in a month.
Some months in the early part of the year (January, February, etc.) might drop in the 400-600 call range. The rest of the year is usually in the higher range. While all of our fire stations respond to a number of incidents a month, Stations 1 (Downtown) and 6 (Ashbury Road) have the heaviest call loads. Stations 2 (Fire Station Road) and 3 (Maxwell Drive) cover much of Ward 10 area and are kept very busy too.
I can attest that citizens and their property are in good hands due to the professional men and women on 24-hour duty at our fire stations across the city.
Like Fire Rescue, the police department is carrying an ever-increasing workload to keep citizens safe. For the month of January 2013, the department answered 6329 calls, made 135 felony arrests, made 551 misdemeanor arrests and had state and city citation arrests of 2820. In addition there were several thousand other activities the department was involved with concerning citizens and city needs.
The early part of the year usually has a lesser workload on the police, if you can call 6329 calls being light. Summer and fall can see calls climb to near 8,000. These calls are handled by three police district divisions. Ward 10 lies in the District 3 zone.
Recent crimes events in Clarksville can be seen at “https: www.crimereports.com”. In the address block of that web page you can type in a particular street address or type “Clarksville, TN” and move a map around that shows all city crimes. Where crime has occurred, a painted block with a letter/graphic inscribed will appear. Click on that block and see the details of the crime.
The police also maintain a list of intersections where wrecks/accidents occur. Sitting at #1 for 2012 is the intersection of Hwy76/Madison Street/41A Bypass with 53 accidents. This has continually been the worst intersection in the city. Next is Riverside Drive/North 2nd Street/Providence Boulevard/Kraft Street with 40. Hwy76/Sango Road is tied for third with 36. Ward 10 has two of the top three most dangerous intersections.
The top roadways for accidents for 2012 are Fort Campbell Boulevard at #1 with 449, Wilma Rudolph Boulevard at #2 with 384, and Madison Street at #3 with 257. Hwy 76 is 9th with 100 and Warfield Boulevard is 10th with 92. Ward 10 has three of the top ten roads for accidents. I’ll reference back to these road issues later in this report.
Needless to say, Clarksville Police are very busy and using the resources they have to the fullest. Citizens are very fortunate to have this professional and accredited police force serving Clarksville.
Building and Codes
If the city looks nasty, your neighbor’s yard looks like the day after D-Day (June 7th) 1944, the house down the street is about to fall down or you need a permit to build, these are the professionals to call. In my opinion, they may have the most thankless job around. Citizens are concerned when code violations are not answered quickly and those that get the knock at the door for violations jump on the inspectors for picking on them.
In January 2013 B&C worked 315 new codes complaints. Of these, 124 were received from citizens and the inspectors initiated 191 during their route inspections. The winter months are usually a bit slower, although 315 cases would appear to be a good workload. However, in the spring and summer months, such as May and August 2012, the number can jump to 734 and 689 respectively.
In addition to working code violations, on average they also provide over a 100 building permits on any given month, dozens of sign permits, several hundred plumbing permits, several hundred gas permits and several hundred electrical permits. Don’t forget that those permits will usually require an inspection, sometimes a re-inspection to correct issues, by a codes officer.
Like the police, B&C also has a top 10 list of code complaint areas they address. At #1 is care of premises. This involves inoperable vehicles, grass over 12 inches high, open storage and trash/debris. At #2 are parking issues. Just because you own the lot doesn’t mean you can park on the sidewalk and grass by the front door of your house. Property maintenance is #3, which includes broken windows, dilapidated roofs, fallen decks and broken gutters. Chicken issues (remember the debate by the council on whether to have chickens in your cooking pot or your yard) have already made the top 10 by coming in at #9.
While I address many issues for the citizens of Ward 10 and work with all the departments of the city, Building and Codes is usually at the top on my contact list. They are always professional and assist me on every codes issue I have.
Madison Street Access Road Concept
For several months I have provided you information on an access road project I brought before the Street Department and Council Street Committee starting in July 2012. I had actually been talking the concept with some citizens and the Street Department engineers for several years, but it wasn’t until the intersection improvement at Hwy76/MLK and Madison Street that time seemed right to move with the concept.
The plan was ready for public reveal in December 2012 at the scheduled Street Committee meeting. However, the mayor was not going to be able to attend and there would not be a quorum, so the meeting was cancelled. I had also heard by this time the bid for the Madison Street widening was delayed until February 2013. The plan was then to be revealed at the January 2013 Street Committee meeting.
I was informed that Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan had contacted the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) with my concept plan for review. Evidently, answers had not come back and she did not want the plan revealed until we had heard from TDOT, according to the committee chairman. I agreed to the delay not wanting to jeopardize any working relationship or potential funding help that might come from TDOT involvement. Thus, I looked forward to laying out the plan last week (February 21st).
During this delay period, the city has been informed that the bid on the expansion of Madison Street to McAdoo was going to be delayed again. The February 2013 bid on the project was going to slip. Then information of additional review or involvement by the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation might cause a further delay. A couple of days before the February Street Committee meeting the chairman contacted me confirming the information I had collected. I was again being asked to hold off in showing the proposed access plan.
It appears TDOT has interest in my concept, but the expansion of Madison Street. seems very fluid at the moment (again). It could be another year until a bid goes out. Based on information I was given, the state may be interested in trying to help with the access road project, but I have heard nothing correlating to any state funding or contribution to the access project. Given my plan has the proposed access roads connecting to Madison (a state road) at three different points and could affect current road access of businesses along that stretch of Madison, the involvement and approval of TDOT is required. Another concern is if my access plans were pushed at this time the project could be delayed as engineering was considered.
As you know, the intersection of Madison Street and Hwy76/Martin Luther King was reworked last year with additional turn lanes being added. That project was years behind from its original scheduled completion. Under the state proposal to widen Madison to McAdoo Creek, the Madison-Hwy76/MLK intersection will be further reworked back to Clarksville’s Gas & Water building.
That same area is affected by my access road concept. While events are fluid there are possibilities to keep things going. The road could be done in a couple of phases. A possibility would to start the widening of Madison where it currently narrows (going toward McAdoo) between the Kmart/Food Lion shopping center and the Wal-Mart across the street. While that is happening, the redesigned area from Gas & Water through the intersection of Madison and 76/MLK could be relooked to include my access concept.
I have concerns with the new Madison Street – Hwy76/MLK intersection. Two left-turn lanes were added to allow traffic coming from the Hilldale community to proceed onto Hwy76/MLK toward the interstate. However, drivers that are heading toward town on Madison (through this intersection) and wanting to turn left into the Captain D’s or Chinese restaurant have to cross four lanes of traffic. Some drivers are NOT paying attention to the new turn lanes and are driving into and across them to wait for the oncoming traffic to clear the remaining two lanes.
Three weeks ago I almost had a head-on collision with a pickup truck that suddenly drove across to the inner left-turn lane just as I was about to pull into the same lane. He was going to turn into Captain D’s and I was preparing to enter for a left-turn toward the interstate. I have witnessed three other near head-on collisions in that same section. My access road concept would eliminate this hazard that is now being played out on a regular basis.
You will note in my Clarksville Police report, this intersection is already #1 in accidents and Madison St is #3 in accidents. While I believe the improvements to the intersection were correctly done, drivers are not paying attention to road markings and a serious accident is going to result. I will keep pressing my access road concept as required action, as there is a need to take some traffic off of that intersection/road to increase safety. I’ll keep you posted.
Work continues slowly with stoplight poles being erected and sensors being installed in the pavement of the streets around the intersection. Citizens keep asking when will it be done. The deadline on the project is June 30th, 2012.
Like you, I cannot wait until it is finished. I have been working this project/issue since 2000. As you will recall, Hwy76/Sango Road is the third most dangerous intersection.
Unless you read the paper, you may have missed that the dismissed lawsuit, brought about when the city stopped further development of the East-West Corridor plan, has been reinstated by a Tennessee Appeals court. If you recall, the city had placed a one-year moratorium on further development in the proposed corridor.
This was to allow the city time to get its ducks lined up for further study and funding. When it came time to commit funding for environmental studies (this would allow the city to accept state and federal funds if they should be offered) and extend the moratorium, Mayor McMillan would not support it, although she agreed to the need.
It was not made a funding priority by the mayor and the political heat was getting warm by the property owners affected by the proposed plan. The administration embellished the potential of lawsuits if the project went ahead.
The lawsuit was dismissed last year, but is now back on the legal charts. According to “The Leaf-Chronicle” online report of February 20th, 2013, (Durrett Case Against City Of Clarksville Reinstated By Appeals Court) the city has spent $79,000 for a Nashville law firm to defend it. That does not include the amount of time and money the city has spent out of it own offices/resources to work this case.
The amount spent to defend the project cancellation would have paid about 25% of the estimated environmental study cost. The city could pay $1.5 million if it loses. That would pay for the full environmental study and much, if not all of the survey work.
Readers will also find it interesting that the East-West Corridor issue is potentially alive, other than just in the courts. It appears the administration is looking to add the corridor project to the state Major Transportation Plan. That plan will be completed by the end of the year.
While this will not be welcome news to those that fought the corridor, in reality it is not exciting news for those that know we need it. I’ll cover four issues that temper any excitement for this approach.
First, I have attended numerous briefings that discussed how road projects come about in the state. Generally, once a project makes the plan it may take 15 years before the state gets started with it. If you have followed the long path of trying to get State Route 374 started, you know we are in year 12 or 13 of that project with no road to show.
Trenton Road is a state road and it has been years since efforts were started to get it widened. Two engineering reports state we need the corridor completed by 2025-2030 to handle the traffic loads that are expected.
With it currently being 2013 and adding 15 years as an optimistic forecast to get state funding, we won’t see the road until 2028 at the earliest. In addition, by that time continued development will likely choke any remaining road options closed, thus killing the corridor completely. The Durrett development closes one of two proposed road paths in that area.
Second, state representatives have stated those cities that show they are serious about trying to build new roads could gain positive state attention and support sooner, if they are willing to spend some of their own money upfront.
This would represent a good faith effort by the city on a defined need. I submit we are not doing well on showing this facet of support. Not only has this council and administration not funded a recognized need, it has had to spend $79,000 to defend its actions to not fund and kill the project. How much more lack of support can be shown?
Third, the federal government, and in turn the state, will have to tighten their belts if spending is reduced to help balance budgets. The future looks poor that pots of money will be provided by the federal government or state for many new road projects.
Neither governmental entity seems to be able to keep up with the maintenance required for current transportation infrastructure. While I favor fighting for any outside funding that may be available, it is not prudent to use that as an excuse for no action. Even with outside funding a 20% city match is usually required. That would be $10 million on this $50 million project. Which leads me to the last issue.
Fourth, waiting for others to pay for needs and fix problems created within one’s own house is the budget battle being waged at the federal and state levels. I have a major problem with Clarksville publically announcing this future transportation problem is beyond our ability to handle with a 20-25 year lead-time to plan and finance.
This city has planned and completed several big projects in the past five years that together rival the East-West Corridor in projected scope and costs. Yet, we cannot do that for a project with four to five times the lead-time to accomplish? In addition, Clarksville’s main corridors are all state highways (Fort Campbell Boulevard, Madison Street, Trenton Road, Tiny Town Road, Warfield Boulevard, 101st Parkway, Wilma Rudolph Boulevard…to name a few).
The complaints are why can’t we do this or that to a road. The answer is too often that it belongs to the state and we have to ask permission and wait for their response. Then they may or may not do as we request. Are we willing to give up more transportation control to the state when we could possibly do it ourselves?
Food for thought. That’s a wrap. Thanks