Nashville, Tennessee is less than a month away from voting on a $5.4 billion transit referendum, which could radically reshape how the city handles transportation. Ahead of that, the city's mayor has signed a "Declaration of Transportation Independence" to help drum up support for the plan.
The non-binding declaration is merely a document that states how the future of transit is envisioned in Nashville. Some of the ideas contained within are pretty simple -- things like making sure transit is affordable, and that people should be able to live and work where they want without having to fret over affordable transportation options.
It's a list of goals, basically. Nashville believes it's the only declaration of its kind -- not that other cities aren't trying to address how to deal with mobility as they grow and expand.
Nashville's $5.4 billion referendum focuses on three key areas -- improving bus service, adding five new light rail lines and building an underground tunnel for trains and buses. Bus improvements include paths that don't enter downtown, rapid bus lines and dedicated bus lanes, in addition to longer hours for routes. Light rail would flow outward from downtown in five different directions, and the tunnel would help more traffic avoid a busy downtown entirely.
The primary goal of the plan is to reduce traffic congestion. Access to reliable, efficient and affordable public transport can help that in a big way, and the plan hopes to expand transit centers to be no more than a half-mile from 76 percent of Nashvillians.
Not everyone is on board with the bill. Some feel that outer communities won't be served as well, while others feel that it's still not doing enough for low-income residents. There's also the matter of cost -- the billions of dollars required for this project would come from issuing bonds and increasing sales, hotel occupancy, business and rental car taxes.
You can find the full text of the declaration online.