Transportation / Transit
A quality transportation system provides mobility to all users. While we typically think of roads and cars in America, a complete transportation system includes walking and biking options, roadways, rail and water ways, and mass transportation. A complete multi-modal transportation system is vital to a region’s economic and environmental health and functioning. Inefficient, congested systems impact mobility for residents, the ability to deliver goods and services, and the quality of the air we breathe.
Why It Matters
Current research by CRT in 2011 reveals that 62 % of our ten-county region’s workforce live and work in different counties. This data, from 2010 U.S. Census Report, indicates that the Middle Tennessee region is highly interconnected—many people from neighboring counties are traveling back and forth every day. Intense inter-regional travel combined with intra-regional thru traffic on Middle Tennessee’s four major interstates compounds congestion further. This reality of Middle Tennessee’s current transportation situation has caused regional leaders to work together, consider, and embrace the need for a diversified transportation system.
A recent 2011 report by CEO for Cities cited the Nashville Region as having the worst commute in the country based on total hours of peak travels. That same year a Brookings Institution report, Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, ranked the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area No. 93 out of 100 in terms of transit access. This report stated, “An estimated 32.2 % of working-age residents have access to public transportation such as trains, buses and other alternatives.”
Regional leaders in Middle Tennessee have recognized the need to provide a variety of transportation options to address growing traffic congestion, mobility needs, pollution, and health concerns. A multi-modal transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently supports our region’s future economic vitality, livability, and sustainability.
Transportation / Transit
Middle Tennessee has made good steps in providing citizens more options for transportation. Currently the region provides Park and Ride commuter programs across the metropolitan region. The Music City Star, running between Wilson County and downtown Nashville, is the first modern commuter rail line in Tennessee. The region has made great strides in planning for the future needs of the additional one million new residents projected to call Middle Tennessee home by 2035 in our adopted MPO 2035 Regional Transportation Plan, that calls for a mix of mass transit systems and improvement of existing roads and infrastructure.
The Nashville Area MPO leads in the development of the region’s long-term range transportation plan and short-range transportation improvement program through a partnership among HUD, DOT, Tennessee DOT, local elected leadership, local planning and public works directors, the business community, and citizens across Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, Wilson and parts of Maury and Robertson counties. The MPO is funded by local partners and through grants from the United States DOT.
The Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus was formed in July of 2009 to provide leadership on important issues facing a rapidly changing regional landscape. Transportation, and particularly the pursuit of a modern mass transit system, served as the early catalyst, but in its brief history the Caucus has served as an effective forum for building personal relationships among Mayors and has helped local governments support each other on issues ranging from flood recovery to proposed state legislation.
The Transit Alliance brings together leaders from all ten counties of Middle Tennessee to address fulfilling the need of an efficient mass transit system in the region. The Sustaining Contributors represent businesses, educational institutions and individuals who are committed to the mission of the Alliance, and through the Alliance, to the future of our region.
The Transit Alliance Advisors work closely with the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus to provide a forum for the elected leaders of the cities and counties of Middle Tennessee to discuss regional issues, including transportation.
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) operates multiple regional bus routes between downtown Nashville and surrounding counties. The RTA’s regional rideshare program also organizes vanpools and carpools throughout Middle Tennessee. The RTA currently operates the Music City Star commuter rail system.
Transportation / Transit
- 62% of our region’s workforce live and work in different counties
Source: US Census tool: on the Map
- In 2010 our region’s commuters spent an average of 35 hours stuck in traffic congestion
Source: The Nashville Business Journal, 9-27-11
- The Nashville region ranks at the bottom, 93 out of 100, for transit access
Source: Brookings Report
- The average commuter drives 37 (VMT) miles a day in our region
Source: 2010 VMT Data
- In 2010 the Nashville region was ranked number one for the most hours spent in rush hour traffic per person.
Source: 2011 CEOs for Cities Report: Driven Apart
New Analysis of Nashville Development Types Reveals Opportunities for Public Savings and Increased Revenue
New analysis unveiled today reveals that Tennessee taxpayers can save money by using smarter development strategies.
Today’s municipalities are working to make the most of their existing infrastructure, their funding to pay for services and operations, and a rationalization for infill/redevelopment/reinvestment that will make their communities more livable, and economically competitive, while insuring wise use of public and private fiscal resources. Smart growth strategies help local governments achieve these objectives. Cumberland Region Tomorrow’s work builds upon similar Quality Growth Principles that advance the same ideas and work towards the same outcomes for local governments and communities.
This Smart Growth America report shows the economic reality of infill/redevelopment, verses traditional neighborhood development, verses low density suburban development. It illustrates projected tax value per acre that translates into municipal tax revenues, along with projected future sales tax revenues expected from each development form. Each case study city and the entire report then goes on to show the projected on-going cost services for local governments, once these developments are completed.
William Fulton, Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation for Smart Growth America, unveiled these findings last night at the Nashville Children’s Theater as part of his presentation for the Nashville Next speaker series.
Smart Growth America examined the relative fiscal costs and benefits of three development scenarios in Nashville-Davidson County; The Gulch, a smart growth oriented development project; Lennox Village, a New Urbanist-style development in a ‘greenfield’ location; and Bradford Hills, a conventional suburban residential subdivision outside of the city. The study focused on the financial cost of providing ongoing city services to the residential component of each project, including police, ambulance and fire service costs as well as the overall impact to the County’s general fund. Upfront infrastructure cost was not included in the analysis.
“What this study demonstrates is how smart growth strategies can help Nashville save money while also helping to create strong, productive communities,” said Bridget Jones, Executive Director of CRT. “By encouraging development in the places where infrastructure already exists, Nashville can eliminate funding for redundant capacity and make the most of existing services. ”
“Embracing smart growth strategies is a tremendous opportunity for cities across the country,” said Fulton. “Choosing financially responsible development patterns will be a crucial component of their future fiscal health and overall economic success.”
The analysis examined three financial factors: cost, revenue and surplus. On a per-unit basis, the New Urbanist-style Lennox Village had the lowest cost to provide ongoing public services. At $1,300 per unit, providing services to Lennox Village cost almost 20 percent less than the conventional suburban Bradford Hills, at $1,600 per unit. The per-unit cost for The Gulch, the smart growth project was $1,400 or 13 percent less than the cost of serving Bradford Hills.
The Gulch project provided Nashville-Davidson County with the most revenue to the county’s general fund in the form of property tax and sales tax likely to be generated by the project’s residents. At $3,370 per unit, the revenue for The Gulch was more than double that of Bradford Hills ($1,620/unit) and two-and-a-half times as much as Lennox Village ($1,340/unit).
The Nashville findings released today will be included in a forthcoming report, Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal benefits of Smart Growth Developments due later this month from Smart Growth America. The report includes local studies from 13 cities in 12 states that compare different development scenarios. The report will include first-of-its-kind national conclusions about the cost savings of smart growth strategies.
TDOT Aims to Improve Service While Saving Tax Dollars
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is seeking to improve driver navigation and pedestrian safety through a reconfiguration of the square’s roundabout and Lebanon business leaders are hoping the project will help to revitalize the city’s historic business district.Read More»
Clarksville City Council members discussed going the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee, which would give local commuters one more option. Clarksville Transit System Director Jimmy Smith said it would be the first step in implementing a commuter bus service.Read More»
One of Raleigh’s major corridors is being redesigned to be more walkable and transit friendly. The Blue Ridge Road, a major link between cultural and university centers in West Raleigh, is undergoing a transformation with the help of public institutions and companies with headquarters along the corridor.Read More»
Today, more than 2 million workers support metro Atlanta’s economy, a number which is projected to more than double over the next three decades. Because these workers live and commute to their jobs all across this region, we know that our economic prosperity is linked to our ability to promote reliable, cost-effective commute options for the nearly 50 percent of metro Atlanta workers who leave their home county to get to their jobs.Read More»
The regional planning authority for the Nashville, Tennessee metropolitan area has embarked on a new philosophy to put the notoriously sprawling region on a less polluting and less consumptive path, anchored by walkable neighborhoods, public transportation, and maximizing the efficiency of current roadways. Meeting the laudable goal of shaping a more sustainable region will not be easy: in 2001, the Nashville metro area was cited as the nation’s most spread-out – the area with the fewest number of residents per square mile – in a review of 271 of our largest metro areas.Read More»
The heart of Columbia, Tennessee lies along a highway and commercial corridor; the James Campbell Boulevard. It was built at the city’s peak when demand was high for retail space and office buildings, but in the past several decades the needs of the City have changed. With the third slowest growth rate in the state of Tennessee, Columbia is in decline. It has the highest unemployment rate of any city of its size in the state and 20 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Not only has Columbia failed to attract new residents, with more and more families choosing to settle in neighboring Middle Tennessee cities, but the city is losing the young millennial generation, that many recognize as key to attracting local investments and maintaining a vibrant economy.Read More»
Three Sumner County projects, including phase three of the Gallatin downtown streetscape, were awarded $1.2 million in funding through the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization. The funds are part of MPO’s region-wide effort to support multiple forms of transportation. Overall eight projects were selected through-out the region. The Sumner County grants will help to fund completion of the Gallatin downtown streetscape master plan as well as the implementation of two greenway project phases.
Sumner County and the City of Gallatin have won millions in grants over the last few years following the completion of their comprehensive plans in 2004 and 2010. “Is it unusual to get as much as we have; I think we’ve been extremely successful,” said Gallatin Community Development Coordinator Jim Svoboda. “I think absolutely we seized on the opportunities that were available and came up at the time.”
Paved trails that will allow more students to walk and bike to schools are among eight Middle Tennessee projects awarded $2.5 million in federal funds by the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization.Read More»