Mayor Cooper calls for Council's support for transit plan

$1.6 billion proposal to invest in neighborhoods
Posted at 8:56 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 23:40:48-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While addressing the Metro Council, Mayor John Cooper said his transportation plan will help build a better Nashville.

He spoke to council members during Tuesday night's meeting and called for them to support the plan.

Read the entire plan here.

"This is the blueprint we need for a successful future," said Mayor Cooper.

The $1.6 billion, 10-year plan would invest $180 million in bus improvements. It would also provide a dedicated lane for rapid bus service on Murfreesboro and Clarksville Pikes, and create 10 neighborhood transit centers. It also includes traffic signal modernization and traffic management.

The proposal would also invest in neighborhood infrastructure by committing $200 million to build sidewalks, as well as $35 million on bikeways and greenways. The plan also dedicates $75 million on traffic calming in neighborhoods.

"There are 1,961 transportation and traffic improvements that go to all neighborhoods that are in this plan," said Mayor Cooper.

Unlike the multi-billion dollar transit proposal from former Mayor Megan Barry in 2017, Mayor Cooper's plan does not include a light rail, or a tax increase for residents. Voters defeated Mayor Barry's plan in 2018.

Mayor Cooper said it would be funded with money from Metro operating and capital budgets, as well as state and federal grant money.

While addressing Council Members, Mayor Cooper said the Biden Administration has already signaled they will award even more funding to plans that prioritize affordable housing and equity, and he believes his plan features those priorities. However, he said in order to get federal and state dollars, Nashville needs to have a plan in place.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 11 community listening sessions were held on the plan, and nearly 3,000 residents shared their ideas and feedback.

Executive Director of Walk Bike Nashville Nora Kern said the plan features a great list of projects. She said investing in sidewalks, bike paths and greenways is important since 2020 has been another record-breaking year for pedestrian deaths.

"I think our first priority is making sure everyone is safe on our roadways, whether they are driving, walking or biking," said Kern.

Council Members are expected to discuss the plan in upcoming meetings. Since the plan does not include a sales tax increase, it does not require approval from voters to be enacted.