One takeaway I had during the Amp debate: A great deal of Nashvillians clamor over light rail.
As Nashville’s transit conversation has morphed from wrangling over that specific project to a broader discussion of what service is needed in the region, there’s an undeniable fixation around light rail.
In their newest report released Tuesday, transit officials in Middle Tennessee have identified a few corridors for possible light-rail service in the region.
There are the logical routes along the interstates where traffic counts are currently swelling at all-time highs: Interstate 65 south to Franklin and Interstate 24 southeast to Murfreesboro. The new report put out by MTA highlights those two corridors. The report also points to potentially running light-rail service from Gallatin to downtown Nashville.
“These areas are the most densely populated and fast growing within the region and have well-established patterns of cross-county travel. Each of these would be long light-rail lines that would serve Middle Tennessee counties as well as trips within Davidson County,” according to the report.
At the moment, this is all exploratory. As part of its yearlong regional study, MTA is seeking public comment on what course of action to take in the future – primarily in order to avoid the type of backlash that ensued with the Amp, when stakeholders argued the project was thrust on them without their input. Previous reports by the MTA found existing transit offerings are inadequate for a city our size.
As we’ve previously reported, Nashville’s growing population has meant a surge in vehicles on the interstates. And even as more people flock to live in Nashville’s urban core, rising rent and housing costs stand to push lower-to-middle income workers further away from urban and Midtown job centers, a trend that would only exacerbate Nashville’s growing traffic.
For businesses and employees, that means valuable time lost sitting in traffic. But congestion also brings with it considerable costs to the region’s economy. It’s also a knock against Nashville in terms of competing with peer cities for new talent and businesses. As such, transit has emerged as an alternative to moving more people throughout the region (continue reading at Nashville Business Journal)