Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 25, 2014

Council rescinds Northwest Connector vote

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council voted 4-1 to rescind a January 14 vote that placed work on sections two and three of the Northwest Connector on hold during a special-called meeting held Friday afternoon.

"This thing's been slowed down, the third reading on the budget amendment, for about two months," Councilman Danny Wyatt said. "I've looked at this thing and if we do this and we spend the $2 million we've got projected over a year and a half, two you feel like everything is still on go? There have been some stoppages at the state on funding. Is everything still good on it?"

In January, the council voted 3-2 against approving a budget amendment for engineering and land survey and appraisal on sections two and three of the project.

Crossville City Manager David Rutherford answered Wyatt, "I wish I had a crystal ball. I'll give you my sincere thoughts on this. Having it delayed for a couple of months has not helped us in trying to stay ahead of what I think is going to be a curve coming from the department of transportation, which is going to be driven more by the U.S. Department of Transportation and their funding.

"The state has been talking about lack of funding for certain projects and funding that they do have is going to be for safety concerns to be addressed. I would certainly try to make a good case, if I were asked, about safety concerns on Northwest connector sections two and three. I don't know where we would be with that. My thought is we can go forward and get the right of way and get everything ready to go and then lobby the department of transportation to make sure we still stay on the list at some place."

Phase one of the project is currently under construction from Hwy. 70 N. to Hwy. 70 W. Section two connects Hwy. 70 N with Hwy. 127 while section three connects Hwy. 127 to Genesis Rd. along the existing Interstate Dr.

The city had an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on the road project, which has been a part of the city's road project plan since the 1970s, to engineer the roads and acquire right of way, and then TDOT would construct the road with an 80-20 cost share.

The budget amendment called for $494,500 from the capital projects general fund transfer, and $156,500 for the Northwest Connector from expenses capitalized.

Councilman Pete Souza asked if it was possible the city could go forward with its work and the state not construct the road.

"I think anything is a possibility when you're looking for outside funding to come in for a construction project," Rutherford said. "The city could always step forward and go forward with that project."

The estimated construction cost is $10 million, with about $2 million for acquisition and design costs and construction costs that include about $6.5 million for a bridge in section two.

Wyatt asked Rutherford to consult with TDOT to find out where the city stands for the project.

"I'd like to make a motion to get back on track, contingent on discussion with them," Wyatt said.

Graham asked if the city needed to rescind previous action on the budget amendment.

Councilman Jesse Kerley said, "We have to have a meeting next week. Do you care to put this off until next week so we can get the full information on the dollar values that we'll be approving for the third reading, if we vote to approve them?"

City Attorney Kenneth Chadwell said the council could rescind the previous action at the Friday meeting and then wait until the March 28 meeting to consider action on the budget amendment for the Northwest Connector. The motion to rescind would likely need four votes to pass, he said, as the motion to rescind had not been stated on the agenda prior to the meeting.

"If you wish to rescind that earlier vote, that's fine. That would take four votes to do that," Chadwell said. "If you want to word specifically your motion for inclusion in the special-called meeting next week, then it only takes a simple majority to pass it."

Wyatt moved to rescind the action, supported by Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III. The motion passed with Wyatt, Kerley, Graham and Councilman George Marlow voting in favor and Souza voted no. As the vote was approved by a two-thirds majority, there was no need to seek an MTAS opinion on the vote to rescind.

The council will meet Friday at 2 p.m. at Crossville City Hall. An agenda has not yet been released.

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