Elected officials, TDOT and other State officials, community organizers, business leaders, and other interested parties gathered in Nashville on Aug 23 at the Music Center Center for the Power of Ten Conference. The semi-annual event is hosted by Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a non-profit organization that advocates for quality growth across the ten-county region of Nashville and its collar counties.
Local Officials Played a Key Part
Several Williamson County officials participated in the presentations, including Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Williamson, Inc. CEO Matt Largen.
Universal Support for Improve Act Passed by Tennessee Legislature in April
A regional report highlighted recent passage of the Improve Act, which allows more local decision-making about transportation spending under certain conditions, and requires a voter referendum in the local community. Metro Nashville Davidson County will be the first to vote on such a referendum, and the Mayors of both Williamson and Rutherford Counties said they expect a referendum in their respective Counties within 2-3 years.
Toks Omishakin, Deputy Commissioner & Chief of Environment & Planning at TDOT, also talked about how TDOT has undertaken new methods aimed at speeding up the average 10-year time is takes for construction projects to progress from inception to completion.
Omishakin hailed the Improve Act as a watershed for Tennessee. “We have not had a comprehensive, sustainable, long-term funding strategy for TDOT for 30 years. So what happened in April [passage of the Improve Act] had 10-12 years’ worth of work behind it. We really need to stop and celebrate just how important that is for our future,” he said.
TDOT Looks To Expedite Transportation Improvements
TDOT has been looking for creative ways to eliminate a $12 billion backlog of projects. According to Omishakin, new initiatives like “Expedited Project Delivery” or EPD and “Fix it First,” whereby TDOT looks at quick fixes that can have a strong and valuable impact while a larger, long-term solution gets put in place, are having a big effect.
“We will be announcing in the near future a Smart Corridor Plan for I-24 and Murfreesboro Rd that allows us to re-route traffic between I-24 and Murfreesboro Rd when accidents and other slow-downs occur,” said Omishakin.
New Directions in ‘Livability’
A panel of regional experts focused on land use and development, open space, workforce, affordable housing, and other ‘livability’ issues was moderated by Williamson, Inc. CEO Matt Largen that highlighted new and promising trends designed to, as CRT President/CEO Carol Hudler put it, “sustain the boom” in Middle Tennessee.