$5.9B plan calls for increasing mass transit options

Traffic Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Moving people around Middle Tennessee faster as the area grows is at the center of a $5.9 billion plan the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and RTA are considering after a year of research and community input.

The nMotion plan is a road map of how transportation will look over the next 25 years.

The final nMotion transit plan recommendation calls for increasing mass transit options over the next two decades.

PDF: nMotion transit plan

The nMotion group estimates that by 2040, there will be 1.5 million more people living in Middle Tennessee.

Highlights of the plan include adding a light rail system, a freeway bus rapid transit system and increasing how often MTA routes run.

The light rail system would run along Charlotte Avenue, Nolensville Road, Murfreesboro Road to the airport and on Gallatin Road.

The bus rapid transit (BRT) would operate along Dickerson Pike, West End and Hillsboro Road.

When the nMotion plan is complete, there will be more than 200 miles of pedestrian improvements, 46 miles of light rail, 98 miles of freeway bus rapid transit, 82 miles of arterial bus rapid transit and 150 miles of express bus on shoulder.

Bus on shoulder service is when a bus will drive on freeway shoulders when general traffic lanes are congested.

“We know that our region is growing by leaps and bounds,” MTA and RTA CEO Steve Bland said. “Our commutes every day are getting more and more congested.”

Bland said funding the $5.9 billion plan will come from different sources, including federal funding, local governments and other partnerships.

“This takes the conversation to the next level so we can start implementing improvements,” he said. “It is not just about how do you raise that money locally, but what are those other sources out there.”

Metro Nashville plans to have a funding proposal for the nMotion plan by the beginning of 2017.

“We are very excited about this plan,” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said. “It gives us some short-term solutions, but it also gives us the long-term 25-year plan.”

The plan will require the cooperation of a number of city and county government, TDOT and public-private partnerships.

It also includes the outlying counties as well.

“As the population grows, it is not just growing in Nashville-Davidson County,” RTA Board Chairwoman Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan said. “What we have seen is the population growth there has slowed a bit, but growth in the outlying counties has exploded.”

She continued, “I think it is important to make sure that all of the counties in the Middle Tennessee region are included because that is where the growth is.”

Drivers told News 2 they are glad the transportation authorities are looking for ways to fix traffic problems.

Many of the drivers said they now spend more time than ever sitting in traffic.

“It is very frustrating especially because you never know if it is going to be backed up or when you are going to get to work,” Rutherford County resident Kayla Marginean said. “It is hard to get places when you have a set time to get there and it’s impossible to anticipate on a daily basis if there is going to be a wreck or a bigger slow down.”

Twila Salenas said her commute to work used to take 20 minutes just five years ago. Now it is taking closer to an hour.

“It is 10 times worst and there are more people coming,” she said. “The more people who come, the worse it’s going to get.”

Salenas continued, “Everyone is in such a hurry to get home because there is so much traffic. They are trying to beat the traffic and there is no way to beat the traffic anymore.”

The public will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on the 25-year plan during a 30-day public comment period.

After the 30 days pass, the MTA and RTA will decide if they will put their plan to work.

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