Despite months of scrutinizing much of the Metro budget, Mayor Karl Dean submitted a capital spending plan last week that included $6.1 million for Metro Public Works to use to install new sidewalks and bikeways projects in Davidson County.
On top of that, federal stimulus funds could make Public Works eligible for about another $11 million, according to Director Billy Lynch.
This is a program spearheaded by former mayor Bill Purcell that took a few hits by those who questioned his priorities. In 2003, Purcell allocated more than $20 million and pledged 25 new miles of sidewalk in Nashville.
In an effort to streamline the program, last year Public Works completed a public process designed to create a new tool for determining where new sidewalks and bikeways should go. But even though the priority index has been implemented, Public Works is not releasing the specific details.
“We’ll use this time [to] prioritize based on what’s anticipated and then plan on spreading it throughout the county,” Lynch said.
The creation of the new priority index to determine where sidewalks and bikeways would be installed took months and was completed last year.
District 23 Councilwoman Emily Evans said it would be helpful to know where Public Works plans to install sidewalks and bikeways before Council approves Dean’s capital spending plan.
“I’d like to know how they’re going to spend it,” Evans said.
Part of Dean’s plan also included de-authorizing all capital projects, which hadn’t gotten underway, and starting from scratch with a new list. The administration froze almost all capital projects and then was forced to delay releasing a spending plan when the economy took a dive and the bond market froze.
In order to simplify the process, the administration elected to de-authorize the previously approved projects and begin anew.
District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman asked Lynch during the Public Works Council budget hearing Tuesday if the de-authorizing of the $59 million would mean less road paving and sidewalk work.
Lynch responded by saying the de-authorization was helpful because it made clear which projects actually had proper funding and added that it would not derail any Public Works projects.