Southeast Area Transportation & Land Use Study - logo

Study Overview

As the third "transportation and land use" study undertaken by the MPO, the Southeast Area Transportation & Land Use Study draws together state, regional, and local partners to develop a preferred vision for growth and development in the area paralleling I-24 between I-40 and I-65 in Davidson, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties. The southeast area is one of the region's, and state's, most important economic engines, and continues to experience strong population and job growth. By taking steps now to coordinate plans for future development, participating agencies and jurisdictions can put in place the multimodal transportation improvements and land use policies necessary to support long-term prosperity and quality of life throughout the area.

Public and Stakeholder Forums

The MPO and local community planners will be conducting two rounds of public and stakeholder forums to review and discuss challenges associated with growth and development trends, and options for the future.

ROUND 1: Growth Trends & Forecasts | JULY 16, 2013 RECAP

Business, Economic Development, Freight Forum Agendapdf
Environment, Sustainability, Livability Forum Agenda pdf
Presentation Filepdf
Meeting Summary pdf
Map of Comments pdf

ROUND 2: Scenario Planning & Preferences | AUGUST 7, 2014

SAVE-THE-DATE Announcements for Two Forumspdf
1 p.m. Environment, Sustainability, Livability / Business, Economic Development, Freight Forum

Patterson Park Community Center
521 Mercury Blvd
Murfreesboro, TN

RSVP HERE for the economic development forum.

RSVP HERE for the livability forum.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of this study? And, why is it important?
  2. The purpose of the Southeast Area Transportation & Land Use Study is to plan for growth in the southeastern portion of the Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area. Drawing together state, regional, and local partners, the study provides an important opportunity to develop a preferred vision for growth and development in the area paralleling I-24 between I-40 and I-65 in Davidson, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties.

    Based on the shared vision for future growth identified through this planning process, the study's key outcomes will include general land use and multi-modal transportation recommendations that the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), cities and counties, transit agencies, and community partners can use to guide their own respective planning efforts.

    The Southeast Area Transportation and Land Use Study is the third transportation and land use study undertaken by the MPO - the other two covered the northeast and southwest sections of the metropolitan region. By all accounts, the southeast area is one of the region's, and state's, most important economic engines, and continues to experience strong population and job growth. And, by taking steps now to coordinate plans for future development, participating agencies and jurisdictions can put in place the multimodal transportation improvements and land use policies necessary to support long-term prosperity and quality of life throughout the area.

  3. Who is leading the study? And, how is it funded?
  4. The Nashville Area MPO is the lead agency and project manager. The MPO has retained a consulting team, led by Nashville-based Gresham, Smith and Partners, to conduct the study in partnership with MPO member jurisdictions. A Project Coordinating Committee will work alongside MPO staff to provide strategic guidance for the study.

    Funding for the study is provided through the MPO with grants from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation; and contributions from local jurisdictions in Rutherford County.

  5. What are the specific outcomes of the study?
  6. The study will produce the following four key outcomes:

    A. Preferred vision for growth and development

    Based on existing local plans, regional population and employment forecasts, and a detailed economic and market analysis, the study will develop a preferred growth vision using a scenario planning process that allows us to compare our current trends with other "what if" scenarios.

    The process will allow the public and key decision-makers to clearly see the costs and benefits, or tradeoffs, of different approaches to public policy and investment in infrastructure.

    B. General land use recommendations

    Once that preferred vision for growth has been identified, the study will suggest to local governments a menu of strategies to better align local land use plans with the area's preferences for growth and development. Opportunities for amending existing land use plans, where appropriate, and recommended changes to land use policies and zoning districts will also be presented. The study's recommendations may be voluntarily implemented, but are not binding.

    C. Multimodal transportation recommendations

    Recommendations for improving roadways and intersections, transit routes, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes will be provided to the participating jurisdictions and agencies, and to the MPO -- the regional agency responsible for selecting transportation projects for federal funding and coordination with TDOT. The project team will define needs for transportation infrastructure and services based on (1) the systems and services that exist today, (2) those that are needed to support the preferred growth vision, and (3) the gap between them.

    D. Growth management toolbox

    The study will identify a set of growth management tools and techniques that will assist local and regional partners in achieving the preferred growth vision. Tailored to the specific needs of the study area, the toolbox will focus on growth management tools such as traffic impact analysis, corridor management agreements, and travel-shed analysis.

  7. How will the MPO and local governments use the study's outcomes?
  8. The MPO will use the study's outcomes as the basis for land use and transportation recommendations in the development of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. Local governments will be able to use the study outcomes to update the land use and transportation elements of their comprehensive plans. And, importantly, local and regional transit agencies will be able to use the detailed transit recommendations to determine new transit services or service improvements within and along the I-24 corridor.

  9. What is the time frame for the study?
  10. The study began in March 2013 and will be completed over an 18-month period.

  11. How can the public get involved?
  12. The study includes three levels of public and stakeholder involvement:

    • July 16th Stakeholder and Citizen Forums: There will be two forums on July 16th that will serve as special purpose sessions with business, freight, and economic development stakeholders as well as one with community and environmental interest groups.
    • Public Meetings: There will be two rounds of public meetings with each round having two meetings. The first round of meetings will be in the fall.
    • Outreach and Engagement Strategies: These strategies will include periodic updates to the website, surveys for citizens, and project information that will be available on the MPO website 24/7. It will also include outreach efforts to low-income and minority communities.
  13. Is this the same thing as the NashvilleNext campaign I've been hearing about?
  14. NashvilleNext is the name given to Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County's (Metro Nashville) community-driven process to plan for growth and development in Davidson County through the year 2040. For the next two years, Metro-Nashville will go about gathering community input, writing a plan, and seeking final approval for that plan by the Metro Planning Commission. The Nashville Area MPO's Southeast Area Study will be conducted in partnership with NashvilleNext, particularly as it affects the southeastern portion of Davidson County; however, this particular study differs from NashvilleNext in that it spans multiple jurisdictions, and so therefore is being led by a regional planning authority..

    Plans for growth and development in Middle Tennessee's urban core (Davidson County), though, can and will impact how the Southeast area of the metropolitan region will grow and develop over time. It is therefore important for the Southeast Area Study to apply significant deference and consideration to both the end-product of the NashvilleNext process (Nashville's 2040 General Plan), as well as Metro's recently-adopted subarea plan for the Antioch community (southeast Davidson County). NashvilleNext is sensitive to the regional nature of growth and development and welcomes involvement from those around the region.

  15. Does this study duplicate or supersede my own community's local plan?
  16. The Nashville Area MPO produces plans in concert with those produced by its member jurisdictions, and in lockstep with involved communities (their stakeholder groups and individual citizens). This study will provide the MPO and local community partners with a preferred vision for growth and development for the southeastern portion of the metropolitan area, as well as general land use and transportation recommendations to guide the implementation of that vision. Interim and final study deliverables will be used by local governments to update the land-use and transportation elements of their comprehensive plans. Meaning, the byproducts of the Southeast Area Study will be extremely useful tools -in the realm of data, summaries of existing and future scenarios, policy and regulatory recommendations, and more - to which local governments can then refer when formulating their own official land-use policies, zoning practices, transportation facility designs, etc. Because local governments control zoning and land-use decisions, communities will have an opportunity to consult the Southeast Study reports in order to better work together (and independently) on sustainable growth and prosperity over the short, mid, and long term.

  17. So is this a study or a plan? What's the difference?
  18. This effort is actually a study; meaning, the MPO is drawing on its regional authority and partners to bring together governments, citizens, and businesses across jurisdictional boundaries to talk about growth and analyze trends, and evaluate options. The study essentially will serve as a forum by which local leaders can come together to consider the growth plans of all involved communities in the study-area, in an effort to improve their own. The MPO will then use the Study's reports to generate ideas for its 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. With local autonomy over land-use comes the responsibility to consider how those decisions shape community livability - including that of neighboring communities and the region as a whole. Because the cumulative choices of the seven involved local government agencies determines quality-of-life, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability, this Study makes concrete recommendations to those local governments, so that they might consult the valuable information contained therein, in order to develop or improve upon their own comprehensive plans, as this area of the region accommodates population growth.

    • What is a plan, then? Plans are a formally adopted set of policies, strategies, and actions that provide an agency or a jurisdiction the necessary guidance for achieving their stated goals and objectives. In the study area, several agencies and jurisdictions are responsible for adopting plans that will be informed by or updated with the results of this study.
  19. Why is a regional government organization involved in plans for my community?
  20. Roads and rail lines do not stop at the city or county border; rather, passengers and freight travel many miles each day on our regional transportation system. Because transportation is a regional concern, your MPO operates as part of a larger, greater-Nashville context - comprised of the interests of local governments, non-profit organizations, the business community, and citizens. MPO studies and plans therefore consistently synthesize and reflect local plans, with any proposed mobility solutions designed with sensitivity to their surrounding contexts. Citizen involvement is welcome and solicited at both the local and regional levels.

    In metropolitan areas of America, MPOs serve as the designated setting by which local governments, residents, and other interested parties plan for how to spend federal transportation funds. Federal requirements dictate that MPOs do so in a manner that has a basis in regional plans (a shared vision for the future), as developed through inter-governmental collaboration, rational analysis, and consensus-based decision-making. The Nashville Area MPO is the logical, best fit to assume a leadership role on projects like the Southeast Area Study; its involvement will help to solidify the Study's recommendations in reality-meaning, actual implementation, over time, by MPO member-government agencies in partnership with businesses, citizens, and other stakeholders.

  21. Do plans flexibly change over time to reflect real-life, on-the-ground conditions in my community?
  22. Sustainable long-term plans should be robust enough to adapt to changing situations—achieving their economic, environmental, social objectives—under semi-unpredictable conditions of deep uncertainty, such as: economic booms or busts, natural disasters, evolving community desires or market conditions, etc. All planning efforts are intended to provide a general framework or vision to enable thoughtful decision-making over time that results in creating and preserving the kind of community that citizens want for themselves and future generations. Livable communities are the byproduct of effective planning and decisions by local officials, developers, and individual residents. Planning today for the future represents our best chance to reverse the negative environmental and quality-of-life outcomes associated with rapid, but largely uncoordinated, regional growth. If communities do not plan, citizens have little say in how their community will grow, change, and develop.

  23. Where does my property fit into this study and/or any local or regional plans that are adopted?
  24. Private property rights are protected throughout this process, as well as processes led by your local government. Economic development is encouraged and supported. This is about studying where development might occur; what it will be like; how it will happen; how the costs of development will be met; and documenting the land-use and transportation choices that the community desires, such as traditional neighborhoods, infill development, transportation alternatives, etc.

For More Information

Michael Skipper, AICP
Executive Director
(615) 862-7204

Project Team Partners

Local & Regional Partners:

Metro Nashville-Davidson County
Rutherford County
City of LaVergne
City of Murfreesboro
Town of Smyrna
Williamson County
Wilson County
Nashville MTA
Murfreesboro Rover
Regional Transportation Authority
Greater Nashville Regional Council

State & Federal Partners:

Tennessee Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Transit Administration

Consultant Partners:

Gresham Smith & Partners
Cambridge Systematics
Basile Baumann Prost Cole & Associates
Connetics Transportation Group
Younger Associates

Non-Profit Partners:

Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee
Cumberland Region Tomorrow

Stay Involved