News & Notes

September, 2018

September 20, 2018

14th Transit Citizen Leadership Academy welcomes new class  

The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee kicked off its 14th Transit Citizen Leadership Academy on Sept. 5 at Barge Design Solutions. 

The six-week program provides attendees with the resources they need to be leaders and actively engage in the transit conversation in Middle Tennessee. The class participants represent eight counties in the region, including Wilson County.

September 19, 2018

Federal Regulations Force Music City Star to Cut Service 

As Nashville continues to grow, more people are looking for more ways to get around. Among those options is the Music City Star -- more people are using it than ever before.  But new federal regulations mean that Music City Star will have to cut service starting next year.

The new federal requirements taking place in 2019 will keep the Music City Star from running more than 12 trips per day,  meaning the Star will have to cut its Friday night service -- the only day it exceeds that amount.

The restrictions will soon be in place because none of the Music City Star trains are equipped with Positive Train Control -- automatic train protection technology that helps prevent train vs. train collisions, and derailments caused by trains going too fast -- technology that some riders say the Music City Star should have.

The Nashville Transit Plan would have paid for Positive Train Control, but voters turned it down in May.
The Music City Star says for now it would rather spend the money it has on upgrading the tracks and train cars themselves.... to keep riders both happy and safe.

The Music City Star is also looking to adjust the schedules of the trains, possibly having them arrive to downtown earlier and leave later.


September 14, 2018

Nashville can learn some growth lessons from Atlanta — yes, Atlanta

For many, a mention of Atlanta conjures long commutes, snarled traffic and suburban sprawl.

But an innovative transit redevelopment project around the city's downtown could provide some lessons for planners and government officials in the Nashville region, which is grappling with its own growth.

On Thursday, the brainchild behind the Atlanta Beltline outlined the $4 billion infrastructure undertaking during The Power of Ten, a one-day summit for leaders from the 10 counties that comprise the broader Nashville region. The summit is produced by Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a nonprofit that encourages better growth planning.

"The whole focus of the day was not how to just accommodate growth, but to plan better how we grow," said Carol Hudler, CEO of the planning organization.

The Beltline is a 22-mile loop of bike and pedestrian trails, a modern streetcar system and parks. It's all based on former railroad corridors that encircle Atlanta.

Built to connect 45 neighborhoods, the transit-oriented redevelopment project includes hundreds of affordable workforce homes, free fitness classes, an arboretum, an urban farm and a large public art installation.


September 12, 2018

After stinging referendum loss, Nashville leaders explore transit makeover on Dickerson Pike 

The Metro Transit Authority in July applied for $1.5 million in federal funding made available through the U.S. Department of Transportation's BUILD program to study new transportation options on the corridor. It's part of a $2.3 million overall plan with the city providing local matching funds.

The proposed "Great Streets Planning Study" for Dickerson Pike would embrace a complete streets approach, mapping out new sidewalks and protected bike lanes. It would also explore future transit possibilities, including bus rapid transit, along the corridor as well as new technologies such as autonomous vehicles. 


September 4, 2018

How transit has impacted Franklin residents the last 15 years  

TMA Group executive Debbie Henry took over as the Franklin's transit leader 10 years ago. 

When she got the job, she had no way to know how much the system and its ridership would grow throughout the decade. “Our goal is to continue to provide more connectivity for our Franklin citizens, employers and visitors with a timely, efficient and professional public transit service," Henry said.

Last year, Henry unveiled the largest changes to date for the system.

FTA has transitioned away from a fixed route system to one that resembles a grid. Henry said the design came about after users asked for more frequent stops. The FTA has whittled the average time between pickup and drop-off for passengers from 60 to 30 minutes. FTA also added eight new drivers and four new vehicles.

This year, Franklin leaders budgeted about $2.9 million for transit. The system is funded by the city's general fund, state and federal grants, and rider fares.


August, 2018

August 30, 2018

Hamilton Springs - Inside the massive transit development you might have forgotten about  

For 30 years, the Bell family has owned more than 200 acres in Lebanon flanking both sides of the railroad tracks. And now the Bell brothers' vision for what that land can be is taking shape.

Jack and Rick Bell are the duo behind Hamilton Springs, the mixed-use development that now houses the seventh stop for the region's lone commuter rail, the Music City Star. The new Hamilton Springs station opened Monday.

Hamilton Springs offers the first glimpse of how transit-focused developments can work in Middle Tennessee. Officials have frequently said connecting where people live and work with expanded transit options will be critical in boosting transit ridership. Hamilton Springs provides a much-needed win for local transit advocates, after Davidson County voters soundly rejected a $5.4 billion transit overhaul in May and Metro Council blocked the creation of a transit-oriented development district in Donelson last week.

There are three pieces of Hamilton Springs completed, including the train station, which has 160 parking spaces for park-and-ride users. There's a 396-unit apartment complex called Hamilton Station Apartments, which was built by Ohio-based developers Gross Builders. That complex is nearing capacity, according to Jack Bell, who said eight units were available as of mid-August. There is also a 13,000-square-foot commercial building at the front of the development, called The Bell Building. That building — completed by the Bell brothers late last year — is home to a coffee shop, spa and law office.


August 28, 2018

Spring Hill adopts development code  

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted Spring Hill’s updated unified development code last week, a project nearly two years in the making aimed at tackling the city’s future growth.

In the fall of 2016, Spring Hill hired Chicago-based Camiros Ltd. to oversee the project, which started with updating the city’s zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations. The process included a community survey and several public input meetings, which addressed the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s previous rules for developers in regards to zoning.

“Having a Unified Development Code is key to implementing the vision laid forth in Spring Hill Rising: 2040, our city’s Comprehensive Plan,” a press release states. “The plan, adopted in 2015, provides mapped and written policy about how land should be managed and how development should occur. The Unified Development Code uses these policies as its base to provide a set of development regulations, generally organized by district, each containing specific regulations key to those policies.”


August 23, 2018

New 650-acre Antioch park to be named Mill Ridge 

Nashville city officials dedicated a 650-acre public park in Antioch on Thursday, the culmination of a years-long planning process.

City officials and Antioch-area boosters said Mill Ridge Park (a name they revealed during Thursday's event) will fill a void for park space in rapidly-growing southeast Nashville.

"Mill Ridge Park establishes a grand-scale park that will be forever preserved for the recreation and enjoyment of the citizens of Southeast Nashville,” Mayor David Briley said in a written statement. "We will make this one of the premiere green spaces in the city.”

Today, the land near Cane Ridge High School is primarily open space.

The park will feature a "destination playground" with water features, picnic pavilions, a fitness loop, a special event lawn and outdoor performance space, trails, restrooms, native grasslands, parking and other amenities.


August 22, 2018

$30M transit-oriented development in Donelson squashed in narrow Council vote   

A controversial deal to develop the state's first transit-oriented development around Donelson's Music City Star station was killed by Metro Council members late Tuesday.

The body voted 19 to 15 against the plan to stimulate $300 million worth of development with a $30 million public investment. It fell just two votes short of the 21 needed for passage, with one member abstaining and five absentees. 

Concerns prevailed about Metro turning over property taxes for a 145-acre site – along Lebanon Pike, between Park Drive and Stewarts Ferry Pike – to the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, which would administer $30 million in public financing for the deal.

MDHA would have collected property tax increases for decades in repayment for loaning tax-increment financing.

Opposing at-large Councilman Bob Mendes said it could lead to more budget problems. Metro officials scrambled this year to cover a $34 million deficit

"This does nothing but suck money out of Metro’s operating budget and we all know that’s how we got to where we are today," Mendes said. "It just digs a deeper hole."

August 21, 2018

Changes planned for downtown Murfreesboro traffic  

A new development will change the layout of the streets and attract more businesses and city growth.

New traffic signals are coming to Broad at Front and Vine streets, which should help significantly with the congested traffic.

Commuters who live there know how hard it is to make a left turn on Front Street onto Broad, but that intersection will soon be gone and a different, more efficient, realignment of Front Street will go in its place.

The plan centers around the Cannonsburgh Village/Historic Bottoms area and includes a pedestrian bridge over Broad.

The new plan also includes a large parking lot centered in the heart of downtown.


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