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Nashville business leaders voice strong support for large-scale transit plan

Nashville business leaders – including members of T4America’s Transportation Innovation Academy co-hosted last year with TransitCenter – have come out strongly in support of an ambitious, large-scale transit plan for the region.

The Moving Forward initiative, a project organized by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce that includes more than 100 business leaders volunteers, has spent the last year hosting community dialogues and engaging other leaders in the transit planning process.

Earlier this week, Moving Forward released a report supporting a large-scale transit expansion in the region. In January Nashville MTA, the regional transit agency, introduced a 25-year plan that laid out three possible transit scenarios. Moving Forward recommended the most ambitious scenario as the starting point for the region’s future transit map. This scenario, estimated to cost $5.4 billion over the next 25 years, would add streetcars, light rail, and bus rapid transit to connect Nashville neighborhoods.

Pete Wooten, Executive Vice President at Avenue Bank, vice-chair of Moving Forward, and a participant in the Transportation Innovation Academy, told the Tennessean that investments in transit are both a defensive and offensive play for the region.

“It’s really about mobility and preserving quality of life — it’s a defensive game,” Wooten said. With the region expecting to add 1 million new residents in the next 25 years, new transportation options are critical.

Wooten continued, “The offensive game is what transit can do from an investment standpoint. It can really open up tremendous value because it connects employees to employers. It provides new corridors for business.”

Business leaders are hoping for speedy action on transit. The Moving Forward report recommends the city develop a plan for downtown transit access this year. And the chamber has aimed for a groundbreaking on the first transit expansion projects by 2020. Bert Mathews, a real estate developer and one of Moving Forward’s committee chairs said, “There are a variety of short-term pieces that can be done and need to be started right now.”

The business leaders also recommend including new transportation technologies in the plan. The report calls on the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization to study installation of intelligent transportation systems in cities and counties across the region and encourages Nashville MTA to include autonomous vehicles in the long-term plan.

Moving Forward’s report does not recommend ways to fund the extensive transit plan. Financing option will be the next issue the group will study.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Nelson

    1 year ago

    Thanks for the article! So great to see Nashville making this a priority. Hopefully many other will follow suit.