By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published April 20, 2016

Burns officials and citizens are concerned about the volume of increased tractor-trailer traffic through their town when a new industrial park access road is completed that routes the trucks down Hogan Road to Highway 96 in the middle of town.

Burns Mayor Landon Mathis recently reported an estimated 100 tractor-trailer trucks per day will roll through Burns from Mohawk Industries’ Dal-Tile facility in the county industrial park upon completion of the access road, and “somewhere around” 3,000 trucks a month.

That figure did not include estimates for trucks from other companies in the industrial park.

“The other sites over there, the industrial areas, if it’s a better road will start coming through,” Mathis said.

April 4 meeting

Mathis noted during the Burns Commission’s April 4 meeting that residents have “a lot” of questions and concerns about the number of trucks to be rerouted through town. The commission met at Town Hall.

The new access road was part of the agreement between state and county officials to attract Mohawk Industries to Dickson, town attorney Tim Potter told the commissioners.

Potter represents Burns, and his law firm represents Dickson County government.

Potter noted his colleague Brian Ragan “primarily” drafted the original memorandum of understanding for Project Falcon – the agreement’s codename before Mohawk officially announced its new plant in Dickson.

Mathis said he was concerned about the increase in truck traffic from the start, but conceded to past commissioners’ wishes and went along with an “open-ended deal” for the access road through Burns.

“I just don’t think it’s a good deal for the town,” Mathis posited.

Potter described two options that Burns officials could employ to address their concerns.

The first option was “fighting” the road’s construction, despite past Burns Commission votes to be a party to the project, and the mayor’s signature authorizing the road’s construction.

Potter didn’t think that was a “good option,” and pointed out his conflict of interest in helping fight the road construction, since he’s the Burns municipal attorney and his firm drafted the memorandum of understanding signed by county and Mohawk officials for the industrial facility in Dickson.

Potter suggested community leaders work with county and state officials in a “long-range option” to improve Highway 96 for the increased traffic, especially if a new school is built in Burns.

“I think Highway 96 in my opinion and I think in the opinion of others needs to be widened ultimately,” Potter said. “It would be a good commercial corridor through there, especially with the school board talking about potentially building a school off Highway 96.”

Past commission votes

In April 2013, Burns commissioners unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Mathis “to prepare and file with the Tennessee Department of Transportation an application for assistance in the construction and completion of (a) proposed industrial access highway” for Project Falcon, ultimately revealed as the county and Mohawk’s agreement for a facility in the Dickson County Industrial Park.

The Herald previously reported that the access road will run from Warren G. Medley Drive across Gum Branch Road and intersect with Highway 96 in the vicinity of Hogan Road.

In July 2014, the Burns Commission unanimously approved a local agency agreement between TDOT, Burns, Dickson city and the county for the access road construction.

Potter reported April 4 that Mathis had signed the agreement for the access road construction.

Mathis responded that he was “totally against” signing the agreement, but did his “duty” as mayor and signed it since the commissioners voted for it.

Mathis reported no plans for the road construction were presented before the July 2014 commission meeting, and the closest thing he’d seen to the design plans until recently was an “aerial photo with a red and blue line on it or something.”

“The night we discussed it and voted on it… the discussion was we didn’t have the plans,” Mathis said. “It was like an open-ended deal. We were just voting on an open-ended deal.

“But the (truck traffic) numbers were never really, that’s the reason we want to discuss this, the numbers were never really given to us,” he continued.

Mathis noted TDOT officials said they would “look into” a traffic light and turn lane from Hogan Road onto Highway 96.

Special-called meeting

Mathis suggested scheduling a special-called meeting to continue discussion of the access road. He proposed asking TDOT and county officials to attend so Burns folks can ask their questions.

Potter also recommended inviting county Mayor Bob Rial, state Rep. Mary Littleton (R-Dickson) and the TDOT representative over the region.

“I think if we talk to the right people and think about this we might be able to approach a long-term improvement to Highway 96,” Potter said. “Obviously that’s not going to happen overnight, but that needs to happen ultimately… for the whole county’s sake too.”

Mathis told The Herald the special-called meeting had not been set as of press time, but he was coordinating “when everyone can attend.”

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