Along Carothers Parkway, the site of a roughly two-year road project, heavy machinery kicked up dust and the sounds of ongoing work echoed on an otherwise quiet late morning.
But it wasn’t the road itself — which rolled out toward Long Lane like an asphalt-colored ribbon — that was under construction.
It was some of the thousands of homes that will someday line the newly complete north-south corridor east of Interstate 65.
On Wednesday, Franklin officials who spoke at a ribbon-cutting for the $17 million southern extension of Carothers Parkway said that the 2.8-mile stretch between Old South Carothers and Long Lane will serve as a major connector in the city’s fastest growing section.
“I was going to show up with bells on — I was so proud,” said Alderman Mike Skinner, who represents the southeastern Franklin area, which includes massive new subdivisions such as the Highlands at Ladd Park and Berry Farms.
In recent years, the city has approved the construction of almost 2,200 new houses and 757 multi-family units whose residents will be able to cruise home more easily.
Although families have quickly snapped up the hundreds of homes that have already been built, the area remained relatively isolated — in particular after an explosion took out a bridge over Interstate 65. At the time, the city scrambled to ensure that the area was equally accessible for emergency service providers.
Skinner said that boosting infrastructure is the city’s duty when it approves big residential developments.
“We have a responsibility when we annex these areas,” he said.
The Carothers extension, which in its earlier planning stages ended about 2,800 feet shy of Long Lane, was the result of foresight and public participation, Skinner said.
The city approved an approximately $2.8 million change order to close the gap after Highlands at Ladd Park residents raised concerns.
“A lot of cities would have half the houses built before they got this,” he said.
City Administrator Eric Stuckey said that the city has worked hard to tether transportation planning to growth.
The Carothers project, for example, was about a decade in the works, even if construction took a little more than two years. It also included grading and right-of-way so that the road could be widened to four lanes, Stuckey said.
The ribbon-cutting took place a day after city engineers presented an updated draft of Franklin’s comprehensive transportation plan and closely followed a county transportation summit on Monday, aimed at exploring ways of heading off and alleviating Williamson’s transportation woes.
An overarching theme? Don’t count on your state road projects being funded any time soon.
That’s why Stuckey said it was important that the city prioritize projects as a sort of “menu,” as he put it. That way when money does become available, the city is ready.
“It’s like we talked about last night,” Stuckey said on Wednesday. “We need to plan for roads in not just five years but in 25 years.”
While Franklin Mayor Ken Moore largely focused on local public transit solutions in his talk at the summit, he said completing local roads for drivers who might otherwise be stuck in traffic on I-65 is a good start.
“It creates another option for people to travel,” he said, adding that sidewalks along the road and a bridge that carries Carothers over the Harpeth River “serve not only to connect people, but it’s a place for people to walk and get out with their family and connect with their neighbors.”
For Kunu Kaushal, who has lived in the Highlands at Ladd Park for about four years and sits on the homeowners association’s advisory board, the road opening came as “a relief.”
“You had no other options,” he said. “It’s a needed change.”