Two years after the Metro Council approved funding, Mayor Karl Dean and various city officials broke ground Tuesday on Nashville’s long-anticipated 28th/31st Avenue Connector.
Prior to the ceremony, some demolition and land-clearing had already taken place on one of the larger lots on the site.
Dean included $18 million in the Fiscal Year 2011 Capital Spending Plan for the connector, which will be a one-third mile road physically connecting 28th Avenue in North Nashville to West End, via 31st Avenue, with a bridge spanning the CSX railroad that runs north of Centennial Park.
The Metro Public Works Department will oversee the effort.
“We are literally reconnecting two parts of our city that were divided over 40 years ago when the interstate was built,” Dean said in a release. “This is a project that has been talked about in Nashville for decades, and I’m extremely proud to say that we’re done talking and we’re finally going to build it.”
The connector will be a “complete street,” incorporating infrastructure to allow for sidewalks, bike lanes and bus stops. The new thoroughfare will also include a number of sustainable features, including side plantings and a median that will serve as a rain gardens to reduce and filter stormwater runoff.
Public art, to be incorporated in six transit shelters and along bridge fencing, will be a component. Overseen by the Metro Arts Commission, the public art elements have a budget of $450,000.
The one-third mile long connector will unite parts of West End with North Nashville, bridging neighborhoods and creating a better line of traffic from Metro General Hospital, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University on the north to Centennial Medical Center, HCA and Vanderbilt on the west. The multimodal boulevard will run from Park Plaza to the south side of the Nashville and Western Railroad (CSX) tracks.
Dean discussed new economic development the connector is already beginning to generate. One City, a mix-used office complex planned for 18-acres adjacent to the 28th Avenue Connector site, has already been approved by the Metro Planning Commission and the Metro Council.
Similarly, the Metro Council recently approved an agreement between Metro Government and HCA that will provide the Metro Public Health Department with a new headquarters facility nearby the connector on Charlotte Avenue.
“One thing is for sure — with these projects combined, in a matter of a few years, 28th and Charlotte avenues will look nothing like they do today,” Dean said. “Corridor redevelopment is a critical part of continuing our city’s growth in a sustainable way.”
Completion of the connector is slated for mid 2012.