Proposed light rail down Gallatin Pike gets support from residents

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A lot of people agree: Traffic is an ongoing problem in Middle Tennessee.

“Anybody who will tell you anything else is outside their mind,” said Clark Lundy, who works in East Nashville.

“It’s terrible,” said East Nashville resident Eric Lee. “Sometimes it’s just like, ‘This is too many cars and not enough road.’ It’s crazy!”

Mayor Megan Barry’s proposed light rail plan would give us another option to get from point A to point B every day, and faster.

The goal is to start work to advance the Gallatin Pike corridor within the next two years. A traffic study shows that area has the highest-ridership and is the most walkable major corridor.

“My husband and I lived in New York City for almost 9 years and that was the way we got around every day,” Ashley Elmquist told News 2.

Eric Lee, who’s lived in Nashville his entire life, is ready to see what it’s all about.

“I’ve never been on a train before. It’s something new coming to Nashville finally. I think it’s a step forward,” he said.

Clark Lundy is just one person who believes Nashville is way behind when it comes to transportation.

“This was proposed many, many years ago when I was in middle school here, and nothing ever came of it because nobody thought Nashville would be the ‘it city’ and that there would be such a population explosion. So yes, are we behind? Absolutely,” he explained.

The multi-billion dollar “Moving the Music City” plan is designed to fix that problem, and light rail is a major part of it.

RELATED: Mayor announces 3-year plan to combat Nashville’s transportation challenges

“I would love to see this city going in more of a metropolitan direction, so I think it sounds wonderful,” said Elmquist.

According to Phase 1 of the plan, the light rail will stretch from Briley Parkway into downtown Nashville with 8 to 10 stops in between.

That can save you some money, whether you’re going downtown to work, or to play.

(Courtesy: City of Nashville)
(Courtesy: City of Nashville)

“It gives you an option to say, stay out in Gallatin, or stay further out, or have a hotel staying out just so they can jump on the rail and head into town, have fun, and then head back without having to worry about say a taxi cab or Uber ride costing them $150,” said Lundy.

It also helps avoid having to pay for parking downtown.

“One night we got our car towed by just going to dinner because parking is such a nightmare, and it would be really nice to just hop on a train and just get to where we would like to have dinner one night,” Elmquist told News 2.

Some light rail opponents say there aren’t enough people using public transportation around Nashville now, so why would this rail system change that?

Lundy told News 2, “I think the bus kind of has a stigma. Number one, they’re not very clean, they’re not patrolled. I don’t think a lot of people feel safe riding the bus. It takes just as long, you don’t have a direct route, you’re still going to get caught in that same traffic.”

Sam McCandless says he’s experienced the reluctance first hand.

He told News 2, “I was living in Phoenix when they developed the light rail there and it took a minute to catch on, but then everyone realized how convenient it was to get downtown from the surrounding neighborhoods and it started being used a lot more.”

Taxes would increase to pay for light rail, and everyone we talked with says they’re prepared to make that sacrifice if it means better and safer options for getting around Middle Tennessee.

Voters will have the ultimate say on the current light rail debate, as funding for the plan will go to the polls next year.

The next Davidson County election is scheduled for May, but a rep for Mayor Barry says a lot of work needs to be done in a short time period in order for that to happen.

For details on all the proposed improvements to public transportation and information on the proposed light rail system, click here.

Follow our Nashville 2017 coverage about the city’s growth, the issues that come with it, and how people are tackling them.

Watch our News 2 Town Hall Meeting: Trains, Planes and Automobiles at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.