State Route 840 Sparks Questions

The long-abandoned idea for a State Route 840 North loop has recently reemerged as several of our Republican gubernatorial candidates discussed its potential merits for solving Middle Tennessee’s traffic problems.
 
While we applaud those seeking solutions to our congestion, we must pay close attention to ALL the impacts that such a loop would create. 

There are the obvious considerations, such as how such a large investment might impact TDOT’s ability to fund their identified priorities, which already includes a connector from SR96 in Dickson to I840, or what specific issues this 840N loop could address that the State Road 109 enhancements now underway won’t be able to do. 

But just as important, we need to think about how this loop would impact the rich farmland it would be slicing through and whether we are willing to sacrifice some of Middle Tennessee’s most productive farms.
  
Agriculture and Forestry is still a vital economic sector for Middle Tennessee, and we’ve been losing 20 acres of active farmland a day.  According to the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center, the Agriculture and Forestry industry contributes more than $16.4 billion in economic activity to our ten-county area. This industry generates $1.6 billion annually in Robertson and Sumner County combined, just two of the 5-6 counties that an 840N loop would directly affect.
  
While a new State Road or Interstate won’t obliterate all the farms and forests in any given county, it irreversibly changes how the land is used.   Let’s look at how these loops impact a region.  Do the loops relieve traffic, or do they drive sprawl?  Who do they benefit most?  What happens to the farming communities closest to the loop?  What happens to the communities they bypass?  What can we learn from the changes we’ve seen since I840 South was completed in 2012?
  
It’s true when they say that asphalt is the last crop. If we must build new roads, let’s first make sure we optimize our current ones and that our infrastructure creates and supports the type of region we want and need.