Booming population causes traffic nightmares across Middle Tennessee

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(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the population booms, congestion on Middle Tennessee’s roads is causing traffic nightmares across the region.

With 30,000 new people calling this region home each year, growing pains have spilled into the streets–literally.

Nashville traffic has been described as unbelievable, but a change is coming.

Long term change, in a long term plan, dubbed Middle Tennessee Connected, will be put in place by the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization. Click here to view the Middle Tennessee Connected Plan. 

“We’re the place that brings together city and county mayors, and planners, to help establish a process to evaluate, and prioritize, and allocate federal dollars for transportation investments,” said MPO employee Michele Lacewell.

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The population hike has caused a spike in car crashes and Nashville MPO compiled a list of all wrecks in the region, over a five-year period.

Officials say there aren’t enough roads for the cars, and that it’s a capacity problem.

“We’ve gotten to a point where, particularly in Middle Tennessee, the pain is starting to become significant, and I think it’s affecting quality of life,” said one MPO official about Nashville traffic.

Middle Tennessee Connected hopes to lower congestion by offering more public transit, more commuter rail systems, an emphasis on biking and walking paths, and upgrading Nashville’s aging interstate infrastructure.

It’s a 25 year plan, with an estimated $8.6 billion price tag.

“The interstates that loop downtown were built at a time when the population and downtown as a whole was a completely different animal,” said one MPO official.

A number of other plans, however, did not make the cut.

“We do not have the funding available over the next 25 years, to invest in those at this point,” said an MPO official.

Most of the federal and state dollars are coming from an aging gas tax and a raise in transportation funds will mean higher taxes for Tennesseans. Governor Bill Haslam outlined the state’s gas tax increase and tax cuts on Wednesday.

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News 2 is exploring the pros and cons of the city’s growth in our Nashville 2017 project in every newscast Thursday, January 18. Click here for complete coverage.