Aug 22, 2022 - News

Cooper wants sidewalks open amid construction projects

Mayor Cooper
Mayor John Cooper standing next to a temporary sidewalk covered by scaffolding near a Vanderbilt University construction site on West End Avenue. Photo: courtesy of the mayor's office

A new city policy will not allow construction projects to block sidewalks or bike lanes for more than a week without a plan to maintain pedestrian and cyclist access.

  • Mayor John Cooper announced last week that permits to block city rights-of-way would only be granted for up to seven days unless the developer found an alternative to keep those spaces open, like constructing scaffolding over a sidewalk.

Flashback: The previous policy allowed developers to get renewable 30-day permits to block a public right-of-way.

Why it matters: Cooper called the new policy an effort "to make it easier and safer to get around our city" despite widespread construction.

  • The announcement follows the passage of the Vision Zero Action plan, which seeks to reduce injuries and deaths on Nashville roads.

By the numbers: The city has already approved 31,000 right-of-way permits so far this year. Cooper said construction projects account for nearly 90% of sidewalk and bike lane closures.

  • Developers with existing 30-day permits can work with city officials to develop an alternative plan when their permits expire.

Yes, but: The new policy will allow developers to apply for a variance if they want an exception.

The intrigue: Cooper's announcement found him once again revisiting the neighborhoods-first language that defined his mayoral campaign.

  • "For too long, Metro government has focused too many resources, say, on Lower Broadway and the surrounding area downtown and not nearly enough on making Nashville a better city for families and residents," he said.
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