An expected spring 2015 start to the long-awaited Middle Tennessee Boulevard improvement project will impact traffic flow and parking on the west side of the MTSU campus during the construction process.
The project is moving forward after the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded a $670,488 federal grant necessary to begin work on the .8-mile section from Greenland Drive to Main Street along the MTSU campus.
The project will reconstruct the existing four- and five-lane roadway to a consistent four-lane divided street with a median. It will include bike lanes, improved sidewalks and lighting, new traffic signals, decorative crosswalks, landscaping and underground utilities.
MTSU officials said they expect the $11 million project to last roughly two and a half years, during which at least one lane of traffic will always be open in both directions.
University officials said the land needed for the improvements was taken primarily from the main campus side of Middle Tennessee Boulevard to make room for wider lanes and bike lanes, which is part of the overall city traffic plan.
Parking and traffic flow around this stretch of Middle Tennessee Boulevard will be affected, so MTSU administrators are encouraging students, faculty, staff and visitors to seek alternative parking in other lots and take advantage of the university’s Raider Xpress shuttle bus service and the MTSU Mobile app.
Officials with MTSU Parking and Transportation Services are also reminding students that the Raider Xpress shuttle routes are designed to get students from any parking lot on campus to their classes within several minutes of boarding.
For campus visitors, a printable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15. Temporary parking permits are available at the Parking and Transportation Services Office on East Main Street.
Initially, MTSU will lose a portion of three tennis courts during construction, which will cause the courts to be reconfigured, according to MTSU Campus Planning.
The west side of campus also will be affected in the following ways:
- Traffic flow on Faulkinberry Drive will change to “right turn in, right turn out” onto Middle Tennessee Boulevard.
- A pull-in area for buses will be added to the front of Murphy Center.
- Signalized pedestrian crossings will be added at Lytle and Division Streets, and crosswalks at Bell Street and Faulkinberry Drive will be upgraded.
- Brick walls with signage will be erected at the corners of Greenland Drive, and another wall will be added at East Main Street, to better define the university’s boundaries.
- Flagpoles will be erected at Faulkinberry Drive.
The Murfreesboro Transportation Department applied for the supplemental grant funding necessary to cover the additional cost of construction.
The TDOT grant allows the city to make up the deficit in the estimated overall construction cost. MTSU provided a $167,622 contribution for the required 20 percent local matching funds, according to the city.
“We are delighted to receive the necessary grant funding for this important part of the Middle Tennessee Boulevard Improvement Project,” Transportation Director Dana Richardson said in a city of Murfreesboro news release. “We hope to bid for the project sometime in the latter part of 2014.”
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)