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Surrounding Mayors Eye Nashville's Transit Referendum

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 18:03:14-04

Mayors across the mid-state have been and will continue to closely watch as Metro residents get ready to head to the polls on the transit referendum.

Voters will decide whether or not to raise four different taxes in order to pay for a comprehensive $5.4 billion plan. It includes five light rail lines, an underground tunnel, an overhaul and expansion to the bus system, neighborhood transportation centers and more sidewalks and bike lanes. 

Early voting begins April 11, with election day slated for May 1.

Recently, Metro Transportation and Sustainability staffers presented an overview of the Nashville plan to Greater Nashville Regional Council - mayors and county executives, who represent 52 other cities and 13 counties across Middle Tennessee, with an overview of the Nashville plan. 

Many critics of the city's plan have cited the lack of a regional connection, with much of the congestion during rush hour coming from drivers who commute from surrounding areas in Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties.

"We believe that successful implementation of a regional transit system begins with key investments in Nashville," said Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. "Along with my colleagues around the region, I realize how significant this vote is to move the region forward after years of planning and coordination."

Proponents of the Metro plan said it was created with the ability for surrounding counties to link up with the Nashville routes, paying their own way.

The IMPROVE Act, passed in the state's last legislative session, paves the way for municipalities to raise transit-related funds via a referendum. 

"By Nashville taking the lead, and building transit from the core, the surrounding counties will now be able to determine next steps for future expansion," said Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed.

Which means if the plan passes in Metro Nashville, residents who live in surrounding communities will likely head to their own polls to determine if they want to pay to join in. Though that event is far from a foregone conclusion, with more groups mobilizing against the city's plan as election day draws near.