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Problem poles coming down to clear sidewalks
Boyd is awesome
Lisa Hobbs photo Some of the utility poles located in the sidewalk on Morford Street are on their way out. McMinnville Electric System will be moving the ones they own this summer. The project is for ADA compliance.

McMinnville Electric System is stepping up and taking down problem utility poles that could prevent city government from becoming ADA compliant with sidewalks.

“We have counted and there are about 20 poles we have in sidewalks that we need to move out,” said MES general manager and CEO Rodney Boyd. “We are in the process of relocating those poles this summer. We are going to be working toward doing that to clear the sidewalks in McMinnville.”

Bringing the issue to light is a state push to bring all local governments into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act before 2020. If not, the Tennessee Department of Transportation can withhold gasoline tax given to those governments.

For the city of McMinnville, compliance includes sidewalks. ADA sidewalk requirements mandate a minimum width of 4 feet be provided in all cases.

“Not all of those poles belong to McMinnville Electric System,” said Boyd. “We’ve been hammered about several poles here in town and we don’t own them. They aren’t our responsibility. We can’t make whomever owns them move them.”

The poles across from the MES office on Morford Street do belong to MES. Boyd said they held off on relocating those poles because the Downtown Economic Revitalization Project phase three would have required all utility lines to be placed underground.

“Let’s do phase three,” said Boyd. “That’s why those poles are still on the sidewalks, because we were waiting on phase three to happen. If phase three happens and we put all that underground, then the rest of our city looks as pretty as our downtown does.”

The overall downtown renovation project was to be done in three phases. Phase one, the renovation of Main Street, was complete in early 2006. Morford Street, from Sparta Street to the Chancery Street intersection, was phase two. That was complete in late 2011.

Phase three, which would have extended the project down Morford Street to the intersection at Hardee’s, was put on hold while the city
attempted to find a grant.

Urging the city to move forward with phase three took place during a Joint Economic and Community Development Board meeting.