Virtue plans delayed

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission postponed action on preliminary plans to improve Virtue Road at its meeting Thursday, Aug 16, so engineers could look into adding a roundabout at the new subdivision under development.

The action fell on the heels of Planning Commissioner Noah Myers asking for the roundabout.

“We’d really like (engineers) to seriously consider it. … If we’re not under the gun for any particular reason,” Myers said. “I really would like to defer (action on the plan) until we have more information to give you an approved plan without a bunch of wiggle room.”

Town engineer Darryl Smith submitted plans for the complete reconstruction of Virtue Road from 2,200 feet south of Broadwood Drive to 700 feet south of Kingston Pike. He added the project is ahead of schedule.

“I reviewed the plans so far, and they are in great shape,” he said.

“Vaughn & Melton has done a very good job.”

Improvements to Virtue Road “will likely be completed in three phases over the next several years,” Smith said, adding the first phase includes about 3,700 feet of the road.

“The (Phase 1) project would include two lanes with curb and gutter, an 8-foot multi-use greenway and a new bridge, with an attached guardrail, over Turkey Creek,” he said.

The improvements include smoothing a sharp curve south of the former Harville property, improving the Kingston Pike/Virtue Road intersection and adding a median island at the entrance of Brookmere subdivision to slow down traffic.

Cost for this phase, estimated at $3.2 million, includes design, right-of-way and construction.

After a May 17 presentation, Sugarwood subdivision residents, whose property backs up to Virtue Road, asked engineers to narrow the road’s widths to “try to stay off their property as best they could,” Smithsaid. Engineers from Vaughn & Melton revised the plans and made the reductions.

While residents such as Jim Anderson and Ricky Bullock, said they were pleased with the revisions, Bullock was concerned about slowing down motorists.

He asked the Town to consider a reduced-size roundaboutinstead of the island.

“I do not believe (the island) is going to be as effective,” Bullock added.

“Roundabouts require quite a bit of real estate,” Jason Elliott, project manager with Vaughn & Melton, warned, adding the minimum diameter of a roundabout is 110 feet.

He said the firm did explore the possibility of a roundabout at Broadwood and Virtue roads, but it was deemed prohibitive to the impact on private properties right around the intersection.”

Still, Planning Commissioner Noah Myers asked about a roundabout at the entrance to the subdivision being developed on the former Harville property.

“That (location) might be a good candidate (for a roundabout), he added. “A roundabout would do a good job in slowing the traffic down.”

“I think, in this location, as long as we could coordinate that with the developer of that new subdivision, we might be able to make it work there,” Elliott said. “(The developer) would have to sign off on that.

“They would have to modify their entrance some.”

Should the developer sign off on the roundabout, Smith said he would not expect it to “push the project construction beyond what we’ve already projected.

“The real unknowns on projects like this can often be the acquisition process for right-of-way and easements, as well as working out conflicts with utilities,” he said.

“We need to talk to the developer,” said Planning Commissioner Louise Povlin, who also is Farragut alderman.

“Obviously, there are other factors at play; but if we don’t do it

now, we’re never going to get it done,” Myers said.

Smith said he currently does not have an estimate of the cost another roundabout would add to the project.

“We’ve got to assess the impact to adjacent properties,” he explained. “While there’s definitely an increased construction cost, I’m not certain how much grading a roundabout would add.”

Smith added he did not know how adding the roundabout in the plan would affect the cost share agreement the Town already made with the developer.