Sonja Drive sidewalks a BOMA workshop focus

As time draws closer to budget talks for Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen to prepare for fiscal year 2024, they are looking at Capital Improvement Projects to be included.

One project on its radar is adding and improving sidewalks along Sonja Drive, which the Board discussed during a workshop Thursday, Feb. 23, before its regular meeting.

“We started this project back in FY ’20,” Town administrator David Smoak said. “We hired Urban Engineering’s Chris Sharp.

“We started with design,” he added. “We funded right-of-way back in 2021, and then we have projected for next fiscal year, 2024, $500,000 for construction.

Town engineer Darryl Smith said work on the project has been in process for three or four years.

“We’ve talked about it longer than that,” he added. “The intent of the project is to extend the existing sidewalk on Sonja Drive’s north side up into Stone Crest subdivision.

“We budgeted the design up to Boring Road.”

“We evaluated several alternatives for sidewalk geometry,” Sharp said. “Discussions started about breaking it into segments.

“There are sections of Sonja Drive in which the pavement width is substandard — similar to Smith Road,” he added. “There will be parts where we will be widening the road and installing curb on one side.

“Adding the curb gives us 6 inches of elevation, and it’s going to help minimize impact on driveways and yards.”

“People are coming up through Dundee (Road) and getting on Sonja (Drive) to cut through, and they come up Admiral (Drive) and cut through,” Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said.

“At Dundee is where the traffic is turning left, and the rest of that is Stone Crest (subdivision), and you don’t see as much traffic on that side of Sonja,” she added.

“Admiral Drive gets it for sure. Admiral and Sonja seem to be a big cut-through. But people are also cutting through Stone Crest — they come up Newport, up to Dundee and then they turn left on Sonja.

“Part of the length (of Sonja) is too narrow, and part of it is too wide, so there are some sections where we are removing pavement for speed control, or to encourage people to drive more slowly and to give more room to squeeze in the sidewalks,” Sharp said.

The sidewalk along Sonja Drive from Admiral Road to Oran Road was estimated to cost $573,500.

Alternative 2 was to add Wardley, which would be a little more than half the distance to Oran Road with a cost of $375,000. ,

Alternative 3 is to extend the sidewalk from Admiral Road to Kingston Pike.

”From a constructability standpoint that would be far easier than Sonja, just given the topography,” Sharp said.

Povlin asked for a quote that includes a sidewalk section along Sonja Drive from Admiral Road to Dundee Road.

“I can very easily come up with it,” Sharp answered.

“That’s kind of what I’m aiming for,” Povlin said. “That portion of Sonja Drive is most concerning to me. It’s most concerning to the residents in that area.”

In another traffic-related matter, resident Kim Frasch asked during Citizen Forum for help to “solve a safety problem at St. John Court and Grigsby Chapel” Road intersection.

“The (St. John Neumann Catholic School) principal is extremely discouraged at this point because he knows the mothers are trying to get their children home safely who attend St. John Neumann Catholic School, and the problem is being exasperated by people (living in Berkely Park),” Frasch said. “We have construction workers who want to get home.”

Smith told Frasch the matter was mulled during budget discussions in 2021. However, the Town could conduct a new traffic count and get a more updated analysis.

“(Smith) ends with saying, ‘delays on St. John Court are only experienced for a short period of time, typically the drop-off or pick-up times for students,’” Frasch quoted. “That is the problem that I’m here” for seeking a resolution.

Alderman Drew Burnette suggested the school could have one of its staff take a class and be certified to control traffic.