Mass transit will be No. 1 priority for Mayor Barry in 2018

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When the calendar turns from 2017 to 2018, for Mayor Megan Barry, priority No. 1 will be mass transit.

“You know, looking forward, it is all about getting people to be excited about transit and then willing to pay for it,” she said.

Her plan is called “Let’s Move Nashville.” It includes 26 miles of light rail beginning on Gallatin Road, from downtown, to Briley Parkway.

It also includes a downtown tunnel underneath Fifth Avenue to allow trains and rapid buses to run from North to South and East to West.

And the plan would also add more MTA and rapid bus lines, plus a mix of sidewalks, bike paths, and other connections all in an effort to ease our roadways.

(Courtesy: Metro Government)

“By 2040, we are on track to have another million people here, so our traffic is probably as good as it is gonna get today,” said Mayor Barry. “It is just gonna get worse tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and this plan addresses that.”

MORE: Nashville mayor releases more details on proposed $5.2B transit plan

“Let’s Move Nashville” would cost $5.2 billion and include a half cent hike in the sales tax, 0.25 cent surcharge on rental cars, and 20 percent surcharge on the business and excise tax.

“And I think that what we have got to do it. We, as a community, have to say, ‘We as a community are going to lead on getting our transit fixes,’” the mayor said.

Barry points to the importance of the referendum next May to pay for the “Let’s Move Nashville” plan. Her goal is to make sure it passes.

“This is about making sure that people who want to get around Davidson County can get around in lots of different ways, and that does include on a sidewalk, in a bike lane,” she told News 2.

(Courtesy: Metro Government)

“We know people are still going to drive, so there are improvements to intersections, but there is also a tremendous investment in buses and in light rail,” she continued.

Mayor Barry hopes Nashville voters approve the budget plan so the city can begin construction of the mass transit system, which will ultimately be part of a regional system connecting Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties, among others, to Nashville.

“These have been regional conversations, and I meet with the regional mayors all the time, and they are absolutely ready to go with transit. They just believe Nashville has to lead and go first, which we are going to do, and they there is an opportunity to connect into our system as we move forward,” the mayor added.

Voters will decide the fate of mass transit in May when they go to the polls to vote on the 5.2-billion-dollar funding referendum.

There is no Plan B. If the referendum fails, there is no funding for mass transit. The entire “Let’s Move Nashville” hinges on the will of voters.