COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. - Traversing onto and from driveway without hesitation or problem is a daily occurrence for most homeowners or renters.
Not for two Collierville families. At least not until Friday afternoon.
Collierville is six months into construction on a major-upgrades project connecting the heart of its town.
It’s a streetscape project connecting, in part, Center Street to the Town Square.
But construction blocked off the driveway to a property home to two houses.
Two families with young children ages six and younger live there. The families went nine days without access.
Now, a wooden plank looms large until construction can be completed.
‘They always said it would be a couple of days. Not this.’
Driving down South Center Street in Collierville, construction cones are abounding.
Most other driveways are accessible at this time of year.
But before Friday afternoon, not for Ashley Garrison or her ‘plot-of-land’ neighbor.
Both share the same driveway.
“They always said it would be a couple days or three days,” said Garrison on Friday morning before work. “Not this.”
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Metal nails spread across their newly completed sidewalks outside her home.
Construction cones, caution tapes and gap several inches wide came between her driveway and street. Garrison said it has been nine days since she lost access.
Well, 16 days total, she said, if including the first round of construction back in January.
Her next-door neighbor, too, has his front driveway blocked off with the same materials. But there are two differences.
An excavator is perched on the roadway in front of the house.
Her neighbor has a second driveway on the back end of the house – not Garrison.
“We see workers sometimes. It’s usually in the morning for a couple of hours but they’re usually working down the street on the roundabout,” said Garrison.
Garrison said during an interview with FOX13 that there are three kids living on the once driveway-less property.
Ages six and younger.
“[My neighbor] is having to carry [her children] so also to make sure they’re not running out into the street and traffic, because we’re having to load them into cars and car seats on the street,” Garrison said.
Gravel to walk on.
Fred Moore, Garrison’s father who also owns the homes on that property, said he complained to the town last week.
The town planner, Jim Groce, responded to Moore in an email.
“I went out there,” Groce wrote. “You’re right. It's not acceptable and I've asked our contractor to make it better.
“The trench has to stay open to allow for the concrete to be poured and cure properly for the type of drain we are installing. Parking on the road will be the best option for both houses. We can and will make a pedestrian gravel path from the road to make it safer and fill in some spots to reduce trip hazards. Sorry for your inconvenience. I've got two kids of my own and I get it. Call or text if you have any more issues.”
The first solution was a two-foot by two-foot gravel spot near the street and electric pole line.
With rain all week, their plot of land became extremely muddy.
“They’ve responded pretty much with the same thing, ‘yes, it’s horrible. Yes, it’s an inconvenience.’ But they refuse to do anything more,” said Moore.
‘Only so long to get work done.’
After our interview with the family, FOX13 went to the town offices and spoke with Groce.
“Before the road project, that side of the street didn’t have curves and gutters so we’re improving the drainage in that area, so to install that drainage inlet properly, we had to remove the driveway,” said Groce. “Several other property owners have had to park out on the street and walk, so they’re not the only property that has been affected quite that way.”
Groce told FOX13 it has taken longer for the Moore-property because of this week’s rain.
When asked why crews didn’t wait a week knowing the forecast, Groce said: “Oh, the contractor has only so long to get the work done, so we’re going and slogging away at it trying to get the project done on time.”
“The goal is to have it done before the summer,” the Collierville town planner added, “so they need to be constantly working in the field to make it work so they need to use the good days and sunny days, so that’s what’s been going on out there.”
FOX13 interviewed Groce around noon Friday afternoon.
About three hours later, Garrison sent FOX13 a text.
“Miraculously, [Jaime Groce] called my dad and had people go out and put wood and metal over the trench to make the driveway usable,” wrote Garrison. “Had you not gone, they would have never done anything. Thank you so much!”
She called it a temporary fix and added, “at least it’ll work until it’s dry and they can work on it and finish it.”
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