Nashville Mayor Unveils Transportation Framework That Includes 26 Miles of Light Rail

A streetcar in Tucson, Ariz., in 2015. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The mayor of Nashville, Tenn., this week unveiled a $5.2 billion transportation framework for the city and Middle Tennessee, a proposal voters will decide next year.

Let’s Move Nashville would fund 26 miles of Nashville’s first-ever light rail system, four rapid bus routes and an increase in the service and frequency of the bus system.

The so-called Let’s Move Nashville: Metro’s Transportation Solution aligns with the IMPROVE Act passed earlier this year, according to a news release. Officials contend the plan, which would be funded by a range of fees, including business, sales and tourism taxes, would establish a strategy of service and infrastructure improvements.

“Investment in transportation today is an investment in Nashville’s future. More transportation options will make life better for Nashvillians, whether you moved here last summer or you’ve spent your entire life here, and it will ensure that the city continues to be a great place to live when today’s children have children of their own,” Mayor Megan Barry said in a news release. “This comprehensive transportation solution will connect more neighborhoods with each other and open the door even wider to the city’s job, education and entertainment centers. We will make sure that no one is left behind.”

The plan includes:

  • Existing bus service improvements with state-of-the-art electric buses and more cross-town routes, 15-minute peak service on busy routes and buses running 20 hours of every day
  • Rapid Bus along Dickerson Road, Hillsboro Road, West End Avenue and the Bordeaux route, which will include signal prioritization, queue jumps, and infrastructure improvements to move transit riders faster to their destination
  • Light Rail on the city’s busiest corridors: Gallatin Road, Nolensville Road, Charlotte Avenue and Murfreesboro Road to the airport
  • A light rail line using existing rails running along the Northwest Corridor to Buchanan Street near Tennessee State University, and the network will begin operations in 2026 and be completed by 2032
  • An underground tunnel downtown serving the region’s job, economic and entertainment center while connecting the light rail network from north to south
  • Neighborhood Transit Centers that offer access to the entire system
  • Transportation network enhancements such as better sidewalks, traffic synchronization and signal improvements, and fixing dangerous intersections