With nearly $13 million in traffic improvements expected to be needed along Big Station Camp Boulevard as the corridor continues to develop, Gallatin city leaders are moving forward with a plan that would require developers to pay for most of the projects.
A resolution supporting the creation of the Big Station Camp Boulevard Transportation Improvement District was moved unanimously out of committee by the Gallatin City Council on Sept. 10 with a full vote expected next month.
If approved, the improvement district would establish a funding mechanism where property owners that develop property within the identified corridor would pay for a portion of the specific transportation improvements based on the amount of traffic the development generates, according to a staff report from the Gallatin Planning Department.
“There are no funding dollars set aside for any (traffic) improvements right now,” Greg Judy with engineering and planning firm Neel-Schaffer told city leaders last week. “So, this is a fairly innovative approach. There are not many communities in Tennessee doing this.”
In all, 17 intersection and roadway improvement projects are expected to be needed along Big Station Camp Boulevard within the next decade. They include widening portions of the road along with installing new traffic signals and turn lanes along the corridor.
Officials analyzed how 19 vacant properties along the corridor between Nashville Pike and Long Hollow Pike might be developed in the future and estimated those projects would add an additional 6,159 p.m. peak hour traffic trips each day, according to the staff report.
As a result, developers would need to pay $2,108 for every p.m. peak hour trip generated by their developments in order to help cover the cost of the traffic improvements that would be needed.
“We’re trying to take into consideration peak traffic on the road, so that the roadway can be built and designed to accommodate that heavier load,” Gallatin Planning Director Bill McCord said. “In many ways people perceive it as an impact fee because it’s paid for by the people who are benefitting from it.”
Of the estimated $12.9 million in transportation improvements that will be needed, the city would be responsible for 13 percent or $1.7 million of the overall cost, according to plans for the proposed improvement district. The remaining $11.2 million would be collected from assessments received from various development projects within the corridor.
New construction or additions to existing developments that generate less than five p.m. peak hour trips would be exempt from paying for the improvement projects, according to the proposed ordinance.
“This is not a tax on anybody who is out there in an existing house or business,” McCord added. “This would be for new businesses and new homes.”
The Gallatin Planning Commission recommended approval of the establishment of the Big Station Camp Boulevard Transportation Improvement District earlier this year with several recently approved developments along the corridor already being required to pay towards the necessary traffic projects, according to McCord.
Despite most of the remaining major roads in the city where development is expected to occur being maintained by the state, city officials say they have not ruled out similar transportation improvement districts in other areas.
“I wouldn’t say we wouldn’t do it,” McCord said. “We’d just probably have to pick out an area that still had a lot of vacant land before we would do something like this (somewhere else in the city).”