Hundreds of people lined up to weigh-in on a proposed multi-billion dollar mass transit plan for Nashville.
Metro Council Members held a public hearing on the issue to get input from the community. The council chambers were packed, with an overflow crowd outside. It was the last opportunity for people to comment on the proposal before it comes up for a critical second vote at next week’s council meeting.
The majority of the residents who addressed council members were in support of the plan. Some said it would help relieve Nashville’s growing traffic problems, increase mobility, and improve air quality.
“When transit is available and competitive, people will choose transit over gridlock,” said one man.
“As citizens, the ability to easily and safely get from one place to another is key to our personal and economic well-being,” added another woman.
Among the people who addressed council members were Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley. They said the plan would benefit the entire Middle Tennessee region. Others in favor of the plan represented area universities, neighborhood groups and businesses.
“The people of Middle Tennessee can’t wait any longer,” said Mayor McMillan. “We need new transportation options so more people doesn’t mean more gridlock.”
The plan, which is called "Let's Move Nashville: Metro's Transportation Solution" calls for $5.4 billion to build a light rail system in Nashville over the next 15 years. It will also improve the city's current bus system.
Opponents expressed concerns about how not all residents would benefit from the plan. They also felt the city had more pressing issues, like affordable housing, that needed to be addressed first.
“In theory, I agree we need transit,” said one woman. “But you need to take a better look at the areas that need it most.”
“Fix the bus service that is already here,” added another woman. “Fix the stuff that is already done, and then move on.”
Next, Metro Council Members will compile the feedback and address their own questions and concerns at a committee meeting Thursday, January 11. A second of three required votes will occur at the Tuesday, January 16 meeting. If the council approves the ordinance, it would put the issue on the May 1 ballot for voters.