People who live in the Opry Mills area say the holiday traffic keeps getting worse, and they want some something done to fix the problem.
From shoppers at Opry Mills, to people seeing the dancing lights at Jellystone Park, to visitors stopping to see the numerous attractions at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, residents said cars in the area multiply around the holidays.
For people like Joan Peay, who live in the Pennington Bend neighborhood, that means holiday headaches.
“We don’t go out on Friday or Saturday nights,” said Peay. “We don’t have visitors to the house on Fridays or Saturdays for the entire holiday season.”
Peay said the problem impacts thousands of people who live in the area, and many are venting their frustrations on neighborhood association Facebook pages.
“It’s just not fair. People say it takes them over an hour to get home,” said Peay.
District 15 Metro Council Member Jeff Syracuse said it’s a frustrating situation and Metro has put together a plan to try and keep traffic moving.
“Last year was rough, but this year is worse,” said Syracuse. “This year we spent a lot of time putting together a traffic flow pattern for the Pennington Bend area. It’s the first time we put a cohesive plan together.”
Now 24 Metro police officers, three sergeants, and one lieutenant are out directing traffic. People who live in the area have been given bright green “residential access passes” to keep in their cars. Syracuse said this will allow residents to pass through crowded intersections faster.
“The officers are doing as much as they can,” said Syracuse. “We have put more resources behind it than ever before. We won’t stop until we continue to improve the situation.”
Peay said many neighbors believe moving the Jellystone Park lights to a new location would help alleviate the traffic, and allow people in her neighborhood to get to their homes easier. She wanted to see a solution to the problem.
Syracuse said Ryman Hospitality and Opry Mills are co-funding an infrastructure improvement study for the area that will likely move forward next year.
In the meantime, he recommends anyone visiting the holiday attractions in the area, to be patient.
“We won’t stop until we can continue to improve the situation.”