Longtime leader works tirelessly to bring mass transit to Nashville

Jo Ann Graves (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Chamber of Commerce line is 80 to 100 people move to Nashville every day.

Whatever the number, we know Nashville is experiencing unprecedented growth. With that growth comes more cars, more traffic and congestion.

Mayor Megan Barry’s solution? A regional mass transit system. Barry unveiled the plan earlier this year and voters will decide this spring if the multi-billion dollar project gets funded.

Working hard to see that it does get voters’ approval is Jo Ann Graves. A former mayor herself, and state senator, Graves is leading the push for mass transit as CEO of the Transit Alliance.

“This is the next step to keep us being the ‘It city,’ and the city we love, so we have got to make the investment,” Graves said.

Graves told News 2 the Transit Alliance, a nonprofit, is “dedicated to bringing a regional mass transit system to Middle Tennessee with a dedicated funding source.”

Before leading the Transit Alliance, Graves has been a political leader for decades. First, as a Gallatin city council member and a state senator – she was one of only three women at the time, before becoming the first woman to serve as Gallatin’s mayor.

“It’s important to be a leader and I encourage all young people to stand up and be a leader,” she said.

Graves told News 2 the brave women coming forward to report sexual offense against very powerful men are leading a cultural change.

“I think the fact that people are losing their jobs over bad behavior is sending a message to everybody that bad behavior, no matter who it is, will not be tolerated and I think that is a positive – a real positive,” she said.

The change Graves is focused on now is growing the Music City Central Station, MTA’s bus line and the Music City Star train into a regional mass transit system.

“By 2040, Nashville and its region will be the size of Denver,” she said. “If we want to keep the economic vitality that we have, if we want to keep the quality of life that we have we have we have to make an investment for our future and that investment needs to start now.”

If Mayor Barry’s “Let’s Move Nashville” transit plan is approved, a plan Graves was a big part of, it will be developed over the next 20 years.

“Look at Tennessee today, and I’d like to think I’ve been a small part of some of the decisions that have been made to make us what we are,” she told News 2.

Graves said it is important for the counties surrounding Nashville to be connected to the mass transit project in order to become a true regional mass transit system.

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