Nashville has grown exponentially over the last several years. It is estimated that the average commute will double in the next year. Therefore, public transportation has become one of those items that “big city Nashville” will have to cross off its list sooner rather than later.
The Institutes for Law, Justice & Society and Civic Leadership kicked off the Collaborative Conversation series with a discussion about “Transportation and Segregation: Let’s not do that again!” The focus of the discussion was the I-40 corridor that was built in 1968. The new interstate highway system connected millions of people, creating new connections between cities and the movement of goods across the country. However, the newly built interstate cut off the vibrant African American Community that existed along Jefferson Street. This was true across the country for many urban areas. Many businesses, churches and homes were detrimentally affected by this construction, disrupting, disconnecting and displacing them. Today, the consequence of this division is still felt as the community continues to struggle with needed revitalization of the area. The “needed transportation” during the 1960s is partly to blame for this section of Nashville not developing as rapidly as other sections of the city. As Nashville looks to build a new transportation system meeting the demands of a growing city, the placement of modes of transportation should be considered with an eye to ensuring equity and access for all stakeholders.
The Institute for Sustainable practice held its discussion with a panel comprised of students, leaders of key non-profits, and government officials. The discussion centered on individuals having better options to make better choices to improve their quality of life and individual well-being, as well as the implications and benefits for the environment and the social structure of the city.
Transportation is tied to so many things in society: affordable housing, neighborhood development, social class, employment, history, land use, and regional climate to name a few. Because of this, the biggest impact we can make on the possibilities for transportation are to use our “citizen muscle” as opposed to our consumer muscle. Citizen muscle is how we work together to ensure the decisions made around transportation are beneficial to the greatest number of users for the system.
The final Collaborative Conversation for the semester was hosted by the School of Public Policy. Those for and against the mayor’s $6 Billion-dollar transit plan came together to discuss the pros and cons as well as the options available for mass transit. The mayor’s plan includes 26 miles of light rail on four major corridors, a 1.8-mile tunnel below downtown that would connect transit lines, 25 miles of bus rapid transit and immediate service improvements to the city’s buses. The goal of this plan is for transit options to be within ½ mile of every resident.
More than 18,000 residents participated in the community engagement process to come up with the plan that has been proposed. Now, it is time for citizens to once again engage the process and voice any concerns. There are three community meetings left on the calendar. If you haven’t already, be sure to attend a meeting to make your voice heard. It is your civic responsibility!
Murfreesboro Road Corridor Discussion
- 6-8 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Trevecca Nazarene University Tarter Student Activity Center on 333 Murfreesboro Pike.
Nolensville Road Corridor Discussion
- 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Coleman Park Community Center gym on 384 Thompson Lane.
Gallatin Road Corridor Discussion
- 6-8 p.m., on Monday, Nov. 20 at the East Nashville Magnet High School auditorium on 110 Gallatin Ave.