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VOL. 41 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 13, 2017

Rail, downtown tunnel part of Nashville's $5.2B transit plan

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A $5.2 billion proposal to build an extensive transit system in the Tennessee capital would introduce light rail and carve out an underground tunnel downtown.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announced Tuesday that her plan would feature 26 miles of light rail, additional bus service and the tunnel.

Details of the plan include:

  • Existing bus service improvements with state-of-the-art electric buses and more cross-town routes, 15-minute peak service on busy routes and buses running 20 hours of every day.
  •  Rapid Bus along Dickerson Road, Hillsboro Road, West End Avenue and the Bordeaux route, which will include signal prioritization, queue jumps, and infrastructure improvements to move transit riders faster to their destination.
  • Light Rail on our busiest corridors – Gallatin Road, Nolensville Road, Charlotte Avenue and Murfreesboro Road to the airport. There will also be a light rail line using existing rails that will run along the Northwest Corridor to Buchanan Street near Tennessee State University. The network will begin operations in 2026 and be completed by 2032.
  • Underground tunnel downtown serving the region’s job, economic and entertainment center while connecting the light rail network from north to south.
  • Neighborhood Transit Centers that offer safe and comfortable access to the entire system.
  • Transportation network enhancements such as better sidewalks, traffic synchronization and signal improvements, and fixing dangerous intersections.

Barry wants to put a package of tax increases to pay for the ambitious project before voters in May. The new revenue would come from boosting the city's sales tax by a half-cent per dollar in 2018, followed by another half-cent hike in 2023. It would also increase taxes on hotel stays, rental cars and businesses.

Fares would be free or reduced for poor, disabled, senior and under-18 residents.

The mayor envisions the project being completed in phases by 2032.

In an effort to engage and inform the community on Metro’s transportation solution, 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, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Northwest Corridor: Tennessee State University, Elliott Hall, Thursday, Nov. 2, 6-8 p.m.
  • Charlotte Avenue Corridor: Lentz Public Health Center, Centennial Rooms, Thursday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m.
  • Murfreesboro Road Corridor: Trevecca, Tarter Student Activity Center, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6-8 p.m.
  • Nolensville Road Corridor: Coleman Park, Gym, Saturday, Nov. 18, noon-2 p.m.
  • Gallatin Road Corridor: East Nashville Magnet High, Monday, Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m.