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Traffic Headaches: Edition 9k

Updated: Aug 31

By Dave McGuire, Editor, CU


(CU) - The Governor's Square area is a mess most times of the day with poor street light synchronization being the official-unofficial culprit. We should all be street light experts by now, right? Multiple local administrations have stressed this issue with little follow-through. For decades the city leadership has forced traffic through WMB with the amazingly poor perspective of viewing the Governor's Square area as the sole highlight of the city. What do I mean specifically? The Governor's Square retail area is best compared with the guy a neighbor used to hire to load rocks. Big, ugly, productive and not very interesting. That seems to be a fairly reliable description of both the rock loader and our Governor's Square retail district.


One of the earliest examples of a missed opportunity for managing future traffic was related to the 101st Airborne Parkway's construction planning. Former Montgomery County Executive Robert Thompson believed the potential for future commercial development on the 101st Parkway warranted 6 lanes of traffic to properly connect Fort Campbell Boulevard to Wilma Rudolph Boulevard. The final decision was placed at 4 lanes and here where are today. Only now are we beginning to realize the validity of his concerns all these years later. Have you recently driven the 4 lanes of 101st Airborne Parkway? Notice the Lowe's Center businesses, hundreds of newer homes and apartments? A Walmart store complimented by fresh rumors of new developments? We can only imagine the future commuting headaches when the parkway is finally widened. It's become increasingly clear Robert Thompson was right way back when ...


It's a shame a city the size of Clarksville is increasingly finding new traffic congestion issues. An urban planning friend used to voice frustration for the complaints saying "long time residents don't become experts in transportation based on tenure". Okay, I appreciate the sarcasm and his greater point on the nuts and bolts. The counter comments, from us non-experts, begin with the frustrating understanding of being able to ride bikes with comparable arrival times in certain areas of the city during peak traffic hours. Unfortunately, we don't have the bike lane option either due to an absence of bike lanes. That's a different topic for a different day. Yet we continue to hear local government officials use the phrase "smart growth" as a reply to frustrated traffic questions. Which, in a very humbled opinion, is not the most fitting description for the actions currently being taken.


Driving can be a hassle regardless of location. Even the recent Covid19 health concerns weren't much of a deterrent to our local drivers. Local shopping commutes? Hush your mouth! Not here in Clarksville!? Jimmy Jones goes to Walmart 3 times per day while his neighbor Martin Moofan drives to a Kroger's across town because the quality is "better".  So, if you’re looking for an alternative to driving in Clarksville, you’re just flat out of luck. CTA buses do serve a useful purpose with the drivers performing as efficient and professional services as possible, but their need to build routes around a reliable customer base eliminates real community wide access. Clarksville's issue is sprawl and a bus program isn't going to adequately support a solution without unnecessarily excessive spending.


Finding these wild weed spots of new traffic in Clarksville isn't difficult. Do any of the below areas sound familiar?


Wilma Rudolph is a Mess

The Governor's Square area is a mess most times of the day with poor street light synchronization being the official-unofficial culprit. We should all be street light experts by now, right? Multiple local administrations have stressed this issue with little follow-through. For decades the city leadership has forced traffic through WMB with the amazingly poor perspective of viewing the Governor's Square area as the sole highlight of the city. What do I mean? The Governor's Square retail area is best compared with the guy a neighbor used to hire to load rocks. Big, ugly, productive and not very interesting. That seems to be a fairly reliable description of both the rock loader and Governor's Square retail district.


Tennova and The Missing I-24 Ramp

Why exactly was Tennova Medical Center built at its current location? If you assumed access to I-24, you're wrong. Reducing traffic and helping patients with quicker access to the hospital is a great idea, isn't it? A ramp connecting our only city hospital to the adjacent interstate would simply benefit everyone. That new access ramp would additionally lessen the daily Wilma Rudolph Boulevard traffic heading to I-24 while also giving ambulances, and others seeking emergency treatment, faster access to Tennova Hospital. When was the last time a Clarksville politician seriously lobbied TDOT for that specific hospital ramp onto I-24? When was a personal gain last involved? Just look back at the original justification for Tennova's current location. If you know one answer the second answers itself.


101st Airborne Parkway

One of the earliest disagreements for 101st Airborne Parkway's planning came via former Montgomery County Executive Robert Thompson. He believed the potential for future commercial development on 101st warranted 6 lanes of traffic to properly connect Fort Campbell Boulevard to Wilma Rudolph Boulevard. Only now are we beginning to realize those concerns all these years later. Have you recently driven the 4 lanes of 101st Airborne Parkway? Notice the Lowe's Center businesses, hundreds of newer homes and apartments, a Walmart store complimented by fresh rumors of new developments? We can only imagine the future commuting headaches when the parkway is finally widened! It's become increasingly clear Robert Thompson was right way back when ...


MLK Boulevard

How many neighborhoods roll onto MLK Boulevard from side streets? We have thousands of drivers pouring onto MLK for I-24 access and the newly suddenly increasing retail options. Most of those homes have been on the cusp of the area for decades without any proactive changes to address the traffic flow. As the new neighborhoods and business are added to the spine of MLK it's fragile traffic flow is now becoming prohibitive. These congestion issues will only grow as Sango and the North MLK Boulevard areas continue to blossom.


Tiny Town Road

And an additional point of reference, please begin plans to examine congestion on Tiny Town Road. What was formerly fenced in farmland for Northeast High School has boomed into a densely populated district. Hundreds of new homes, retail shops, offices and restaurants are beginning to define a growing option to Governor's Square. And guess what? If your recent visits have been limited to only the theater area, it's now a much larger development pattern. A review of the larger area's continued growth, beginning at Fort Campbell Boulevard to Trenton Road, shows it's difficult not recognizing the growth throughout Tiny Town. Feeling really ambitious? Take a ride on Trenton Road across I-24 and view the expansion of homes on old farm lands. It's a pending traffic concern in coming years for the area.


Do we have any local media holding the politicians accountable for these questions? If so, who and when?


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