FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Twenty years from now, Middle Tennessee is projected to grow by more than one million people.
That’s why Middle Tennessee mayors are trying to plan ahead by declaring 2020 the “Year of Transportation.”
“It doesn’t look like Nashville and Middle Tennessee as a whole is going to be slowing down,” said Michelle Lacewell, Deputy Director of the Greater Nashville Regional Council or GNRC.
City of Franklin Mayor Ken Moore is among the GNRC’s mayors who are part of the new unified push.
“That’s more traffic. That’s more congestion. We don’t really have any choice but to solve the transportation problem,” said Moore. “We’ve worked together for a long time. The stars are starting to align so more people involved, other than just the mayors.”
In October of 2019, Governor Bill year showed his support for the new transportation partnership.
According to a new GNRC report, the Greater Nashville area will grow from two million people in 2018 to nearly 3.3. million in 2045.
Lacewell said that, coupled with job growth, makes planning now for the next 25 years crucial.
“We’re not waiting out a period of growth and waiting for things to slow down,” she said. “And so it’s important that we are continuing to put pressure on ourselves to make sure that these priorities are met.”
Mayor Moore said key will be looking at what’s to come after what’s helped to fund countless road projects in Tennessee – the Improve Act.
“I think it’s important that we be looking at what’s after the Improve Act and that we make sure we’re creating those policies so it’s easier for us as communities to move forward on road projects,” said Moore. “How can we make those projects get out faster?”
Mayor Moore said roads aren’t all the answers, but to think about sidewalks and bike lanes to ease congestion of single-occupancy vehicles.
He said even the idea of a bullet train isn’t necessarily the best alternative.
“I could build a bullet train from Franklin to Nashville and it wouldn’t work right now because our system isn’t robust enough to handle it, neither is Nashville,” said Moore. “We have to change the way we’re doing things, change the way we’re designing our communities so they’re more pedestrian friendly. So they’re more mixed-used facilities in close proximity.”
The GNRC is coming up with its financial forecast for the next 25 years.
Lacewell said the GNRC will begin public outreach for the master plan this summer.