The City of Morristown is proud to announce that we have been selected as a recipient of the RAISE Grant, an award of $23,430,325 to improve the S. Cumberland Street corridor through Morristown.
The South Cumberland corridor has long been identified as an area of the City in need of safety and aesthetic improvements. In 2021, a study of the S. Cumberland Street corridor was conducted with public input. Following the study, the Lakeway Area Metropolitan Transportation and Planning Organization (LAMTPO) together with the City, identified some potential improvements that could be made to the South Cumberland Street corridor to make it safer for both pedestrians and motorists. The proposed changes were appealing but cost prohibitive for one organization to fund in the near-term. LAMTPO Coordinator Rich DesGroseilliers, together with City staff, elected officials, and TDOT, sought out the federal RAISE grant as a way to fund this much-needed project.
The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Discretionary Grant Program is a federal grant to help urban and rural communities move forward on projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, and intermodal transportation to make transportation systems safer, more accessible, more affordable, and more sustainable. This year, Morristown is one of three cities in Tennessee to be awarded the grant. Projects were evaluated on several criteria, including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, partnership and collaboration, innovation, state of good repair, and mobility and community connectivity.
Application for the grant was made in early 2022 with a completed scope of the project. This two-part project will include new traffic signal coordination on Buffalo Trail/N Cumberland St from N Liberty Hill Rd to Lincoln Ave. Intersections will be refitted with traffic signals on mast arms and crosswalks upgraded to meet ADA standards. A complete streets redesign will improve the roadway, creating a shared turning lane, add sidewalks, a multiuse path, and attractive landscaping.
“This project will improve the safety and movement for all multimodal transportation (vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian) needs throughout the entire corridor, but will also help improve the aesthetics of S. Cumberland Street when coming into town,” said DesGroseilliers. The improvements will be a great benefit to businesses located along this roadway, residents, customers, and visitors to our community.
Mayor Gary Chesney said of the project, “We are incredibly fortunate to be able to secure funding for such an aggressive project so soon after completing the corridor study within the last year. It’s not uncommon for concepts like that to sit on a shelf for many years and have to be done in smaller phases. This will have a great impact on an area that has seen its better days and would benefit from a turn back in that direction. This is just another major step to make us happy to say, ‘We are Morristown’.”
The City thanks the variety of elected officials and local organizations for their assistance in helping the City receive this grant. Letters of support and advocacy to the US Department of Transportation helped Morristown stand out as a project worth funding. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Bill Hagerty, Rep. Diana Harshbarger, Sen. Steve Southerland, Rep. Rick Eldridge, TDOT, TN Department of Economic and Community Development, East TN Development District, TN Department of Health, and local representatives from HOLA Lakeway, Hamblen County Commission, Morristown City Council, and the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce all voiced their support for this grant.
The City of Morristown and the LAMPTO will begin taking steps immediately to work with the Federal Highway Administration and TDOT to initiate the project. Projects of this scale utilizing federal funds require various environmental review and other preliminary steps that can take a considerable amount of time. Citizens can anticipate that construction is not likely to commence until 2025 or 2026.