In what would be the largest capital investment in Nashville, Tenn., history, on Oct. 17, 2017, Mayor Megan Barry unveiled “Let’s Move Nashville: Metro’s Transportation Solution,” a plan that the city said aligns with the state IMPROVE Act passed earlier this year. In early 2018, Nashville Metro Council members will be asked to put the plan on the ballot for the May 2018 countywide vote.
“Investment in transportation today is an investment in Nashville’s future,” Mayor Barry said. “More transportation options will make life better for Nashvillians. . . . This comprehensive transportation solution will connect more neighborhoods with each other and open the door even wider to the city’s job, education and entertainment centers. We will make sure that no one is left behind.”
Let’s Move Nashville is a $5.2 billion infrastructure investment that will be funded by a range of fees, including business, sales and tourism taxes. The plan originated after many years of study and community engagements through the nMotion strategic plan, which was led by the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), with coordination at the state and local level, the city said. It includes 26 miles of Nashville’s first-ever light rail system, four rapid bus routes, a dramatic increase in the service and frequency of the bus system, and a strategy of service and infrastructure improvements.
Details of the plan include:
- Existing bus service improvements with state-of-the-art electric buses and more cross-town routes, 15-minute peak service on busy routes and buses running 20 hours of every day.
- Rapid Bus along Dickerson Road, Hillsboro Road, West End Avenue and the Bordeaux route, which will include signal prioritization, queue jumps and infrastructure improvements to move transit riders faster to their destinations.
- Light rail on the busiest corridors: Gallatin Road, Nolensville Road, Charlotte Avenue and Murfreesboro Road to the airport. There will also be a light rail line using existing rails that will run along the Northwest Corridor to Buchanan Street near Tennessee State University. The network will begin operations in 2026 and be completed by 2032.
- An underground tunnel downtown serving the region’s job, economic and entertainment center while connecting the light rail network from north to south.
- Neighborhood Transit Centers that offer safe and comfortable access to the entire system.
- Transportation network enhancements such as better sidewalks, traffic synchronization and signal improvements, and fixing dangerous intersections.
The city said this plan would not be possible without the passage of the IMPROVE Act earlier this year. This legislation, in addition to funding road and bridge projects across the state, authorized local governments to collect surcharges on various taxes and fees currently being assessed by the local governments, if approved by voters by referendum. Nashville will seek federal grants where available, while also utilizing four surcharges to fund the project implementation and long-term maintenance of the system:
“It’s important to me that we are equitable and fair with the taxes used to pay for transit, while understanding the need for a bold, comprehensive transportation system that will address Nashville’s needs now and in the future,” said Mayor Barry. “This is a balanced funding proposal that will ensure that visitors and out-of-county residents who may use our roads or transit system will pay their fair share along with residents who will have access to better jobs and transportation options as a result of this proposal.”