MTSU has contributed $5 million to the renovation of Middle Tennessee Boulevard that officially began on Jan. 11, 2016.
Middle Tennessee Boulevard runs along the west side of MTSU’s campus, connecting Greenland Drive and East Main Street.
The project has been 15 years in the making and is expected to take about two and a half years and over $15 million to complete, according to Murfreesboro’s City Engineer, Chris Sanders.
“We knew there was a need for this [project],” Sanders said. “We really wanted to develop something for the traffic, but at the same time, something that would work for the students and be more pedestrian friendly.”
He said one of the major issues that prompted the need for upgrades was the fact that Middle Tennessee Boulevard was “structurally failing.” Sanders explained that areas where asphalt on the road is cracking require constant repairs.
“It was more than we could take care of by just repaving it. The entire thing had to be rebuilt,” Sanders said.
In addition to fixing the stability of the road and creating better traffic conditions, Sanders said that the aesthetic appeal of the sidewalks needed improvements where they were also cracking.
“Not only is this important for pedestrians, but for bicyclists as well,” Sanders said.
Types of Upgrades
Repairs and upgrades for Middle Tennessee Boulevard include rebuilding the street, widening lanes and intersections, repairing the sidewalks, as well as adding two more traffic signals, bicycle lanes, a raised median, seat walls and decorative lighting. The City of Murfreesboro will also be moving all of the utilities on this section of the street, including hanging wires, underground.
MTSU director of media relations Jimmy Hart, said that this project will both enhance the university and benefit its students.
“This section of the street will look very similar to the section of Middle Tennessee Boulevard between East Main Street and Mercury Boulevard,” Hart said. “There is going to be a safety benefit with the way that this project is designed.”
In addition to bike lanes, more crosswalks will be added in various places on the street. Hart said one of these crosswalks will be placed by the Bell Street Parking Lot so that commuters can safely cross Middle Tennessee Boulevard.
Impact on Traffic and Students
Construction is not expected to begin, nor affect traffic, until the second week of the 2016 Spring semester.
Sanders said that a lane going in each direction will remain open while schools are in session. There will be times during Spring and Summer break, however, when the section of Middle Tennessee Boulevard that is under construction will be shut down for work.
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In the meantime, while classes are in session, Sanders suggested that commuters try to avoid the road if possible.
“The road will still be passable, but as we tell folks all the time with any construction project, if you can avoid the area it’s beneficial to both the motorists and the construction crew,” Sanders said.
Despite the construction possibly creating problems for commuters, MTSU students have expressed the need for Middle Tennessee Boulevard to be upgraded.
Miranda Dotson, a senior in the business department at MTSU, posted on Facebook in response to a Daily News Journal article about the construction project:
I live in Lyon dorm which is right where the construction will take place. I had get a handicap parking permit because my walker kept getting stuck trying to cross at that traffic intersection between Bell and Middle Tennessee Blvd. These upgrades are very badly needed.
“We certainly want students and visitors to be aware,” Hart said. “It’s definitely going to be affecting traffic around campus for a while.”