How Let’s Move Nashville was born

Friday, April 20, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 16
By Kathy Carlson

If a transit plan can have parents, this one has at least three:

-- The Nashville Next planning project that started in 2013 and produced the 2015 Nashville Next report

-- The nMotion transit study begun in April 2015 and completed in 2016

-- The 2017 state IMPROVE Act, which gave Metro the ability to raise certain taxes for transit projects.

NashvilleNext was a sprawling, multi-volume plan that required its own 20-page guide for readers. It examined neighborhoods throughout Nashville, listed guiding principles for planning, and asked citizens for input.

Along with neighborhood-specific plans, Nashville Next took a long look at transportation. It urged the city to “create a high capacity transit system to provide genuine accessibility to jobs, housing and services, as well as regional connectivity.”

NMotion set out a regional approach to transit issues. The 25-year strategic plan called for routes with Nashville as the regional hub and spoking out to Clarksville, Dickson, Springfield, White House, Gallatin, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Franklin and Columbia. The Metro Transit Authority and Regional Transit Authority collaborated on the nMotion plan.

The 2017 state IMPROVE Act not only provided for new state-tax revenues to pay for roads and bridges, but also gave some larger counties, including Davidson, the leeway to raise local taxes to support transit projects – and transit projects alone.

Let’s Move Nashville incorporates some of the neighborhood-preservation sentiments of NashvilleNext with what backers say was a directive from citizens who participated in the nMotion process to take a broad, comprehensive approach to transit - the “go big or go home” approach.

It uses the new tax surcharge possibilities envisioned in the IMPROVE Act to pay for long-term debt to pay for much of the transit system. Metro will use the millions of dollars in annual revenues from the IMPROVE Act taxes, along with money from other sources, to pay the long-term debt that will finance the transit plan. The bonds will be issued on a staggered basis through 2031 and will be fully paid off by 2068.