My goals in this blog include helping people understand how all of this works, and perhaps even make the process better. After thinking what my next post should be about I think it is important to recognize people and communities who “get it”.
From my experience over the past 4 years in local programs I think that there are only about a dozen people in the whole State of TN that “get it” when it comes to the local programs process. This number includes people both within TDOT and outside TDOT. Let me be clear, this is a tricky process at times, and there are many times when I am not so sure that I am one of those folks.
Nancy Sartor (just retired from TDOT in June, and author of Tennessee’s local programs manual, now working at Weiser consulting) certainly gets it. And right up there with her has to be Mr. Ed Haley of Arlington, Tennessee.
Mr. Haley is the City Administrator for the Town of Arlington, and no stranger to road projects. You can Google (or just call him at his office) to get details on his long and proud service to the people of Tennessee. What I want to acknowledge is what he has done in the local programs world.
Back in early 2009 the Memphis MPO made an appeal to its member communities that they needed to quickly spend their STP funds, or else they might get lost. The question was asked does anyone have “shovel ready” projects, and Arlington really stepped up.
They enlarged the scope of a small intersection improvement project at Airline Rd. and US70, got a signal intersection project going at Airline and Milton Wilson Rd, and a road widening project on Milton Wilson North. Almost all of these projects had their challenges.
Airline and US70 had a big at grade rail road (R/R) crossing involved (more latter on the pitfalls of projects around rail roads). Milton Wilson North is a fairly substantial widening project, that had ROW issues that had to be sorted out with our Regional ROW folks.
In my mind though is the triumph of Milton Wilson South. This is going to be a new road through the woods. Tricky ROW issues to sort out even before the project got off the ground. Then there is the environmental document which was just recently completed in record time. That is no small feat. With any luck Arlington will have this thing let to contract before Christmas, and completed before it gets cold next year.
I can’t adequately explain what an accomplishment this is. At the core of this is Mr. Haley who has assembled a great team of consultants and lead them to do great things.
There have been several times that I have recommended to local government officials who are trying to understand and move their projects forward that what they need to do is give Mr. Haley a call and ask him how he does it. If you are a local government official who is trying to figure this out, or a consultant, or a private citizen who is concerned about moving a local programs project see if you can buy Mr. Haley his lunch and listen to what he has to say. He is doing it.
So congratulations to Mr. Ed Haley! The Town of Arlington is truly lucky to have you! And stand back because from what I understand more projects are on the way! I look forward to it!