Shows a modern mass transit rail
Source: Moving Forward 2017 Report

With so many people moving to the Middle Tennessee area, a high population boom, and increased traffic across the region, many leaders are looking for ways to improve the traffic flow and decrease the amount of time we spend in traffic year-round. Moving Forward, which is a recent initiative out of the Nashville Area Chamber, recently hosted a traffic summit with the local mayors. With the looming transit referendum of 2018 approaching, many aren’t just thinking about transit options, but looking at what is needed and what we can do.

Moving Forward focuses on the transit needs and efforts of the area by engaging the community in talks.

“At this time last year, Moving Forward and our goal was to report and endorse the boldest plan for transit under consideration by the MTA and the RTA. In 2017 mayors in our region took a leadership role in supporting the passage of the ‘Improve Act’, and the ability of middle Tennessee counties put in a place the funding for transit. Thank you to many Moving Forward volunteers, who assisted in that effort. We thank our state legislators for passing the ‘Improve Act’ and providing many middle Tennessee counties with the opportunity to take local dedicated funding options to the voters. We cannot stress enough, the importance of allowing our residents to decide if and how to generate local dedicated funding. Local dedicated funding is critical for us to take the next step forward for transit in middle Tennessee,” said Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin.

As part of the summit, Moving Forward released their 2017 transit report, which includes the plan for the city. Here’s a look at their objectives and which ones are completed and underway.

• Support the completion of an RTA and MTA Strategic Plan update by the end of 2016 (completed).

• Support the identification and passage of state and federal government revenue enhancements for transit by the end of 2017 (completed).

• Ensure at least 30,000 engagements with Middle Tennesseans in the transit conversation by the end of 2017 (underway).

• Identify and secure a local dedicated funding source for transit in the region by the end of 2018 (underway).

• Support breaking ground on the first rapid transit project in the region by the end of 2020 (not yet completed).

Moving Forward also works on extending and detailing other parts of the plan with a range of recommendations, from a new downtown mobility plan to an improvement of Metro’s AccessRide. The five main recommendations for 2017 include:

1. A downtown mobility plan
2. Expand the IMPROVE Act to include Middle Tennessee counties initially excluded
3. Creating an office for public–private partnerships
4. Boosting software for Metro’s AccessRide
5. A new autonomous vehicle pilot program in Nashville

You might see some of the improvements this year, such as:

• Increased frequency and span of MTA bus service – the most frequent local routes would have buses arriving every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

• 11 “crosstown” connections within Davidson County and a “crossregion” route connecting Franklin/ Cool Springs and Murfreesboro.

• Within Davidson County, light rail transit (LRT) on Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nolensville and Charlotte Pikes and bus rapid transit (BRT) on Dickerson Pike and parts of Broadway/West End Avenue and 21st Avenue South/Hillsboro Pike.

• Bus on shoulder in the near-term on I-24 West, I-65 North, I-40 East, and I-65 South during periods of peak congestion

• Freeway BRT – buses operating in dedicated or managed lanes within the right of way of the freeway – is planned for I-65 South, Ellington Parkway/Hwy 386 and I-24 East.

• Commuter rail from Nashville to Clarksville and extending the length, hours of operation and frequency for the existing Music City Star rail line that connects Nashville to Lebanon.

“Fifty percent of the people that work in Davidson County don’t live in Davidson County. That means if we solve some of the problems around transit in Davidson County it’s not the whole picture. We have to get people in and out of our county and in and out of the surrounding counties as well,”  – Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.

There are also a number of 2016 recommendations that were implemented, partially implemented, in progress, or not implemented. For more detailed information, you can read the Moving Forward report here.

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