Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

Mayor John Cooper’s office has released a new and expanded draft of his $1.6 billion transportation plan, offering more details on proposed changes to public transit, sidewalks and more.

The new version of the plan includes further information on the $180 million “Better Bus” plan, which would expand the city’s fleet of buses, increase the amount of bus-stop shelters and expand service hours, among other improvements.

The plan also proposes $75 million for traffic safety and Vision Zero initiatives. Cooper pledged to pursue a Vision Zero plan — an international initiative to reduce traffic deaths — following a deadly year for pedestrians in 2019. The draft notes that traffic-calming plans and the installation of so-called smart signals would be in line with Vision Zero goals. Pedestrian safety remains a concerning issue in 2020 — a Tuesday morning hit-and-run on Dickerson Pike accounted for the third pedestrian fatality on that roadway in a single month.

The draft also lists challenges facing the plan, including a lack of trust in Metro, long and unreliable public transit commutes, and competing demands for the streets — the plan compares Nashville roads to “a Wild West” of bikes, pedestrians, cars and freight trucks.

The new version of the plan shows a slight increase in proposed spending compared to the rough draft Cooper first released at the end of August. Faye DiMassimo, Cooper’s transportation advisor, tells the Scene that the bump in numbers reflects the addition of improvements to WeGo Star service and the Downtown Neighborhood Traffic project, as well as “corrections and edits from further evaluation and inputs since the original draft project list was developed.”

The plan also lists a “funding toolbox” that notes potential federal, state, local and private sources of funding, though dedicated sources of financing for many projects have yet to be secured. Transit advocates had previously expressed concerns about a lack of dedicated funding for the plan when Cooper previewed it last month.

The plan was informed by public feedback that Metro officials heard over the course of 11 public meetings earlier this year.

The transportation plan is still a draft, and lacks an executive summary. Metro is inviting Nashvillians to read the plan and respond to a survey that will be live until Oct. 31. The mayor’s office hopes to place the plan in front of the Metro Council for a vote in November.

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