2009 Regional Mass Transit Summit

May 27, 2009 | War Memorial Auditorium | Nashville, TN

On May 27th the Nashville Area MPO joined forces with Cumberland Region Tomorrow (CRT) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to hold a regional summit dedicated to moving forward on regional transit initiatives in middle Tennessee.

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The Nashville Area MPO is the federally mandated regional transportation planning agency for most of the 10-county CRT area and we are committed to working with our partners at the Clarksville Urbanized Area MPO and TDOT to establish a regional vision for transportation that includes mass transit as an important component for all 10 counties. However, the success of our planning and the credibility of a unified vision rely on your involvement in the process.

Summit Recap

Mayors Panel

Over the past year, several city and county mayors have been working together to move regional transit issues to the forefront of regional thinking and collaboration. Those efforts, in part, led to the recent passage of critical state enabling legislation that will provide the necessary tools for local governments to work collaboratively to plan, finance, implement, and manage expanded mass transit across the greater Nashville region. During the second half of the summit agenda, Michael Skipper moderated a panel of city and county mayors in a discussion about recent efforts targeted at improving regional transit.

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Mayor Dean Calls Region to Action

In his address to community leaders assembled at the summit, Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Mayor Karl Dean called for the establishment of a 10-county regional mayors caucus to provide leadership on a myriad of issues that affect communities across the region - including transportation. In order build on the momentum of recent enabling legislation and the regional summit, he also called for the creation of a "transit alliance" of public and private partners to provide the necessary guidance to elected leadership in the pursuit of mass transit expansion.

Guest Speakers

A good portion of the summit was dedicated to educating our own regional leadership on the progress being made by other metropolitan areas across the nation with respect to mass transit.

Representing the political perspective, Mayor Patrick McCrory spoke about the work being done in Charlotte, North Carolina to implement light rail plans, but specifically addressed the process for generating interest among constituents from a spectrum of political leanings in the use of mass transit as an economic development tool to transform neglected and/or blighted corridors.

Representing the business perspective, Mr. Brandon Janes (Austin Chamber of Commerce) presented the steps that Austin, Texas is taking to use investments in mass transit to support local goals for mobility, economic development, and environmental sustainability - all while protecting the area's mantra, "Keep Austin Weird!"

Representing the public agency perspective, Mr. Cal Marsella, General Manager of the Denver Regional Transportation District, presented an overview of the Denver region's ups and downs in implementing the largest urban mass transit expansion program in the nation's history.

While in town, each of the guest speakers took some time to sit down with the MPO to share a little more about their story.

Guest Speaker Biographies

Patrick McCrory - Mayor of Charlotte, NC

Mayor McCrory began his political career in Charlotte in 1989 when he was elected as an At-large City Council representative in his first run for an elected office. He was re-elected in both 1991 and 1993, serving as Mayor Pro Tem in 1993 until first elected Mayor in 1995. In November 2007, Mayor McCrory won his seventh term as Mayor, continuing his record as the City's longest serving mayor. Mayor McCrory has distinguished himself as a leader in the areas of public safety, economic development, and transportation. He has been recognized nationally for his leadership in developing Charlotte's 25-year transportation and land-use plan, including his efforts to secure $200 million in federal funds for light rail in Charlotte. During his tenure, more that $2 billion in local and state road improvement have been made throughout the City. In 2007, Mayor McCrory was invited by the Brookings Institute to work on a transportation and infrastructure study. During Pat McCrory's term as Mayor, he has overseen a budget of $1.8 billion, a population growth of 20%, the creation of 200,000 jobs, and he led the effort to recruit and retain quality businesses. In addition, he has focused his recruitment efforts across the globe to promote Charlotte in such countries as Singapore, Israel, Poland, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy.

His economic development activities also include serving on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Charlotte Regional Partnership through his position as Mayor. In 1995, the Mayor founded the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance and has personally served as a Mentor to four youth. He served as a seven-term Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Environment Committee and for two years as the Chair of the USCM Housing Committee. He served six years as President of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials (RMLO) organization and was the Founding Chair for the North Carolina Metropolitan Coalition, a group of the state's 25 large-city mayors. He also was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Homeland Security Advisory Committee in October 2003.

The Mayor has had an extensive private sector career serving 29 years with Duke Energy Corporation. During his career at Duke, he held several top management positions in Recruitment and Staffing, Management and Professional Training, and Economic Development and Industrial Recruitment. In relation to his private-sector employment, he also held leadership positions with the American Society of Training Development and the National College Placement Association. He presently is a partner with McCrory & Company and serves on the Board of Directors of Tree.com. Mayor McCrory graduated from Catawba College in 1978 with a B.A. degree in Political Science/Education. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Catawba College and received an Honorary Doctorate degree from the school in 2001. He is married to Ann Gordon McCrory.

Brandon Janes - Past Chairman, Regional Infrastructure & Transportation Committee, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin, TX

Brandon Janes is a partner with the law firm of Jackson Walker L.L.P. in Austin, Texas and practices in the area of corporate and securities law. He received a B.B.A. from Baylor University and his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School. He is also a certified public accountant. He has authored a number of articles and papers on business law matters and is co-author of Doing Business in Texas, a Guide for Foreign Investors.

For many years, Mr. Janes has been involved in regional economic development and transportation issues. He has served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and chaired the Chamber's Regional Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. He has served on the Future Connections Task Force of Capital Metro, the Austin regional transit authority. He co-chaired a regional peer review and reorganization of the Area's MPO, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Mr. Janes serves as chair of a regional mobility initiative, Take on Traffic, directed at multi-modal transportation solutions for the Central Texas region. In addition, Mr. Janes serves on the CAMPO Transit Working Group which is in the process of making recommendations on transit and rail initiatives in the Central Texas region.

Mr. Janes is Vice-Chairman of the Alliance for Public Transportation, a regional non-profit organization formed to promote public transportation, economic development and the environment in the Central Texas region.

Clarence W. "Cal" Marsella - General Manager, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO

Clarence W. "Cal" Marsella, a 34-year transit veteran, was hired as the General Manager of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in August 1995. He manages 2,500 employees, over 1,000 privately contracted employees, and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million. Since taking the reins at RTD, Cal and his talented staff have helped gain the trust of the greater Denver metro area by building three new light rail lines on time and on budget. That includes RTD's $879 million light rail component of the $1.67 billion T-REX light rail and highway project that opened November 17, 2006. The level of public trust in RTD was verified in 2004 when metro area voters overwhelmingly passed the $4.7 billion light rail and commuter rail rapid transit expansion program for the eight-county metro area. This represents the largest transit-only voter approved program in the entire country. Mr. Marsella began his transportation career in the highway engineering division of the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation in 1974. He then served as the Director of Transportation Services for the City of Hartford, Connecticut from 1976 through 1979. From 1979 through 1992, Cal served as the Chief of Contracted Services for Miami's Metro Dade Transit Agency. There he was responsible for the development and management of all transit and paratransit services operated under contract to private sector service providers.

Mr. Marsella is a nationally-known private transportation expert, and served as co-owner of Gulf Coast Paratransit Inc. consultants in Fort Myers, Florida from 1992 to 1995 before moving to Denver. Cal was selected by the American Public Transportation Association as the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in 2006, by the University of Colorado Real Estate Council as their 2006 Person of the Year, and by Colorado Association of State Transportation Agencies as the Transportation Professional of the Year in 2000. He serves on the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Intermodal Transportation Research Institute at the University of Denver. He regularly guest lectures at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado Masters Degree program in Transportation and Public Administration.

Mr. Marsella holds a Masters Degree in Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, both from the University of Connecticut. Cal commutes by bus each day from his home in Louisville, where he resides with his wife Sheri and their children.