NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville is talking transit again, two years after voters rejected a multi-billion-dollar improvement plan. This time, Mayor John Cooper is taking a different approach, one council discussed openly for the first time Tuesday.
Ramping up for another transportation plan, during a pandemic, when a 34 percent property tax increase is knocking on the door for Nashvillians.
But pump the brakes, this is still the discussion phase.
“This forum was established specifically to give council members an interactive forum to discuss the proposed plan,” councilman Freddie O’Connell said Tuesday night over a Metro Council Zoom meeting.
Beyond that, Mayor Cooper’s $1.6 billion plan reportedly won’t cost taxpayers anything, because it will not be funded by any kind of tax.
“Nearly 3,000 individuals contributed to what those priorities needed to be,” said a representative of Cooper’s administration.
Better transit, sidewalks, and improved neighborhoods will be priorities.
Before and during the pandemic, the mayor’s office has held a dozen community listening sessions, three-dozen stakeholder sessions, for input. Out of that, Nashville’s next try at transit would set aside $200 million for sidewalks, $180 million for better bus service, including a rapid route on Murfreesboro and Clarksville Pikes, on top of another $35 million to improve biking and greenways.
“I want to say the transit alliance does support the transit plan as it is proposed, as a first step towards addressing Nashville’s current transportation and mobility challenges,” added Jessica Dauphin, CEO for Transit Alliance for Middle TN.
Cooper also looks to fulfill a campaign promise, claiming almost 2,000 transit and traffic improvements to answer the needs of existing Nashville neighborhoods. One of several elements walk-bike advocates favor. But as always, the plan will stop and go, depending on the money flow.
“We do have concerns about the feasibility of the plan, and the lack of a clear timeline for funding the projects contained in the plan,” said Lindsey Ganson of Walk Bike Nashville.
Metro intends to pay for these improvements with its annual budget and with the help of state and federal grants. No public vote is required, because no tax is planned.
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