Transportation / Transit

The Music City Star, Downtown Nashville


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.

Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

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.

Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus

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.

Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee

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.

Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

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.

Other Partners

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)
Clarksville Urbanized Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Transportation / Transit


Franklin Tomorrow Releases Transportation Survey Results

SR840 Williamson County

In mid-February of 2014, Franklin Tomorrow released the results of a transportation issues study conducted in 2013, revealing that people want reduced congestion and less delay, more transportation choices, and a better street network.

The survey was formulated by a citizen task force working to expand on results of the 2011 Visioning Process, which drew over 1,000 participants, and a 2012 Household Survey conducted with the Williamson County Association of Realtors, which reached a 400-household count and was conducted by a national polling firm.

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Community Spotlight: Safe Routes to Schools in Nolensville, Tennessee

Nolensville 1

Many Middle Tennessee communities have taken advantage of Safe Routes to School Funding to enhance connectivity and accessibility at existing school sites. The community of Nolensville recognized that improving walking and biking access to Nolensville Elementary would accomplish several objectives. It would provide help to many families who lived nearby the school but were unable or felt uncomfortable letting their children walk there.

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Middle Tennessee Trend: Towns and Cities Actively Creating Connectivity and Transportation Choices


Many Middle Tennessee towns and cities are currently implementing projects in 2014 to create connectivity and enhance transportation choices for their residents, with an emphasis on safe personal travel options. An article published yesterday in the Tennessean spotlights sidewalk construction underway in Gallatin, which is intended to help improve pedestrian safety and access in some of the city’s most heavily travelled areas. In May of 2013, the Tennessean reports, Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves organized a team of city engineering and planning officials to focus on where new sidewalks could be added.

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Nashville MPO Releases Middle Tennessee Transit Vision and Services Details


The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, in partnership with area transit operators, has fabricated a more graphically-appealing way to convey the “bold, new vision for mass transit” from the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan. Today, the MPO released a greater-Nashville “route” map, illustrating the major transit-planning elements over the near, mid, and long-term – the style of which is based upon the now-ubiquitous passenger-wayfinding schematics used by world-class transit systems, such as the London Underground, New York City MTA, and D.C. Metro.

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CRT Announces 2013–2014 Rockefeller Grant in Support of TDOT Multimodal Opportunities for Tennessee Communities

p12 New Schematic 2

Cumberland Region Tomorrow is happy to announce that Tennessee has been selected to receive Rockefeller Grant funding in 2013 and 2014 that will be focused to support TDOT Multimodal Programs and Funding Opportunities for Tennessee communities through Smart Growth America and Transportation for America. CRT will serve as project manager for the $150,000 grant effort as Tennessee’s leading smart growth organization and will work in conjunction with TDOT Multimodal leaders and Tennessee Regions’ Roundtable Network members to take advantage of Rockefeller grant resources to complete research on community leaders’ priorities and perceptions across the state. That research will support the joint development and dissemination of new communications and outreach materials targeted to community leaders across Tennessee. 

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TDOT’s 25-Year Long-Range Transportation Plan — Get Involved!


The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is creating a new long-term vision for transportation in Tennessee and public input is needed. This 25-Year Long-Range Transportation Plan provides the foundation for prioritizing transportation investments across the State. The updated plan will aid in accomplishing TDOT’s mission to serve the public by providing the best multimodal transportation system in the Nation.

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TDOT Announces New Multimodal Access Fund

p12 New Schematic

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced this week the creation of the Multimodal Access Fund. The Multimodal Access Fund is a new program to support the transportation needs of transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists through infrastructure projects that address existing gaps along the state highway network.

“This fund is designed to help communities provide transportation choices for people across Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Improving the facilities for walking, biking, and transit is essential to the continued growth and success of our towns and cities.”

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TDOT Aims to Improve Service While Saving Tax Dollars

TDOT Aims to Improve Service While Saving Tax Dollars

Agency partners with Smart Growth America to analyze projects & processes  
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has partnered with Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute to increase its efficiency and ensure the greatest possible return on Tennessee’s transportation investments. As a result, TDOT has compiled a series of recommendations designed to pin down areas for improvement, prioritize projects and streamline processes, in a new report released today.
“Transportation investments are invaluable to driving economic recovery and prosperity across Tennessee,” says TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “But as this report shows, we cannot be limited to old ways of doing business. We must enable and encourage more flexible, innovative and lower-cost solutions to state’s transportation needs. Prioritizing and designing projects to add the most value for their cost is smart, common sense policy in a time of fiscal constraint, and all Tennesseans stand to benefit from an even more effective Department of Transportation.”
The analysis, Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, revealed TDOT currently has nine times more projects in its work plan than it has funding. As a result, some beneficial projects currently run the risk of falling through the cracks, while the service intent of others might be equally fulfilled through a less expensive solution.
To counter this, TDOT is already in the process of developing more rigorous metrics for the measurement of broad project benefits and better prioritization of projects. The analysis also suggests that TDOT should audit its existing work program to eliminate projects that are no longer needed and right-size projects that can be improved.
“Scaling projects to available resources upfront and making sure that they are flexible and tailored to local needs will go a long way toward ensuring that Tennessee taxpayers get the best bang for their buck,” says Roger Millar, vice president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “By emphasizing the importance of the planning, programming, environmental and design phases of the project development process, TDOT will deliver a higher quality of service at less cost.”
To learn more about Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and its capacity to help states and municipalities review and improve their economic, transportation, housing, land-use and environmental policies visit Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute.
Smart Growth America (SGA) is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. For additional information
Cumberland Region Tomorrow congratulates TDOT and SGA for their successful leadership efforts that will continue to advance Tennessee regions and communities in their successful economic and community development efforts. CRT is proud to be a member of the SGA coalition of local, regional, state and national organizations dedicated to this important work.

Historic Downtown Lebanon Looks Forward to New Look

Lebanon City Square-Wilson

The Tennessean February 24, 2012

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.

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More Transportation Choices Being Considered for Clarksville Commuters

Relax and Ride Bus

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.

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