Mayor Barry unveils $5.2 billion transit plan for Nashville

(Photo: WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor Megan Barry introduced a sweeping $5.2 billion transportation and infrastructure plan Tuesday, designed to connect communities in Davidson County.

The plan is called Let’s Move Nashville. If approved, parts of it could go into place in 2019, with the final phase to be completed in 2032.

It calls for 26 miles of light rail, four rapid bus routes and an underground tunnel through downtown Nashville.

Details include:

  • State of the art electric buses, cross-town routes, buses running 20 hours a day with 15-minute peak service on the busies routes.
  • Rapid bus service along Dickerson Rd., Hillsboro Rd., West End Ave. and the Bordeaux route.
  • A Light Rail network to being operations in 2026, starting with the area’s busiest corridors along Gallatin Rd., Nolensville Rd., Charlotte Ave. and Murfreesboro Rd. to the airport. A light rail line using existing rails would run along the Northwest Corridor to Buchanan St. near Tennessee State University.

The most controversial proposal is for an underground tunnel downtown, connecting the light rail network from north to south. It would run from 5th Ave. to Charlotte, with an entrance at 5th and Broadway near Bridgestone Arena.

Funding for this plan would come from the IMPROVE act, approved by the state legislature earlier this year.  Plus the Mayor says Metro will seek federal grants.

The proposal also includes four tax surcharges:

  • ½ percent sales tax surcharge starting July, 2018, going up to one percent in 2023
  • ¼ percent surcharge on the hotel/motel tax
  • 20 percent surcharge on rental car tax
  • 20 percent surcharge on the business and excise tax.

Adoption of this plan requires voter approval. Metro Council will be asked to put a referendum on the ballot on May 1, 2018

The Mayor said after many years of study, feedback from community members and coordination at state and local levels, the city is ready to move forward with a transportation solution.

As a show of support, three former mayors attended Tuesday’s announcement: Bill Purcell, Karl Dean and Phil Bredesen, who’s considering a run for U.S. Senate.

Many people have been working behind the scenes to build support for Let’s Move Nashville.

For months, supporters have been collecting signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

There will be 6 public events to discuss the transit plan. The Mayor’s Office, Metro Public Works, and MTA will be hosting a series of open houses throughout Davidson County, starting with neighborhoods along the light rail corridors:

  • Downtown Corridor: Nashville Farmers’ Market Food Court area – Thursday, Oct. 26; 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Northwest Corridor: Tennessee State University, Elliott Hall – Thursday, Nov. 2; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Charlotte Avenue Corridor: Lentz Public Health Center, Centennial Rooms – Thursday, Nov. 9; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Murfreesboro Road Corridor: Trevecca, Tarter Student Activity Center – Tuesday, Nov. 14; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Nolensville Road Corridor: Coleman Park, Gym – Saturday, Nov. 18; 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Gallatin Road Corridor: East Nashville Magnet High – Monday, Nov. 20; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.