After a groundbreaking ceremony more than two years ago, construction has started on Jefferson Street’s long-awaited facelift.
The Gateway to Heritage project, which various local and state government agencies are working on, is expected to be complete by September.
The project will feature a plaza at the Interstate 40 overpass on Jefferson Street that has pillars “wrapped” with historical information and pictures related to the African-American history of the area. Nearly $450,000 in federal housing development money will go toward the plaza.
“The goal is to turn that underpass … into a public plaza that recognizes the history of North Nashville, particularly African-Americans,” said Ginger Hausser, assistant director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at Tennessee State University.
The columns will be divided up into five themes, including information on education, athletics, music, civil rights and religion. The plan is to have striped rows of colored gravel to match each theme.
Another portion of the project includes Tennessee Department of Transportation-funded landscaping and columns along Jefferson Street from 28th Avenue to Rosa L. Parks Boulevard.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the landscaping portion of the project took place in the fall of 2009. Hausser said the project moved slowly because of the multiple agencies involved.
“Anytime when you’re working with five sources, two federal agencies, a university, a local government and it has multiple phases, it’s actually pretty amazing that it’s come together,” Hausser said.
TSU originally wrote a grant for the project in 2009, according to Hausser.
“Our hopes at TSU are that these kind of improvements will really create some excitement in North Nashville that might stimulate growth, get employees, students, etc., walking and attract new businesses,” Hausser said.