- Nashville Mayor Megan Barry on Tuesday proposed a $5.2 billion public transit and infrastructure plan that aims to better connect the city with surrounding Davidson County communities, according to WKRN.
- The Let's Move Nashville initiative would add 26 miles of light rail, four rapid bus routes and a tunnel under downtown Nashville that would allow the light-rail service to run north and south through the city. Barry's plan would also impose new sales (0.5%), hotel/motel (0.25%), rental car (20%) and business and excise (20%) tax surcharges.
- Before the Let's Move Nashville plan can move forward, voters must give their approval for it at the ballot box in May 2018. In addition to federal grants, primary funding for the initiative would come from the IMPROVE Act, which got the green light from legislators earlier this year.
While some cities, transit entities and commuters tired of traffic gridlock have big light-rail ambitions, they are not always a slam dunk with the lawmakers who control the purse strings.
Last year, Minnesota state legislators refused to fund a measure that would have provided the $145 million necessary for the Minneapolis-area Southwest Light Rail project to qualify for a $1 billion Federal Transit Administration matching-funds grant. In response, the Metropolitan Council, the agency leading the project, and surrounding counties came up with the money themselves. Because of the delays, according to project officials, costs have increased by $18 million to $1.86 billion.
Last month, the Metropolitan Council reported that the four bids it received for the project were too high, delaying the contract award process until the first quarter of 2018 at least and pushing back completion to 2021. The Metropolitan Council has also delayed its FTA grant application to the second quarter of 2018.
Los Angeles officials, on the other hand, are taking advantage of the new voter-approved Measure M sales tax increase and planning new light-rail projects. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is weighing two options for the South Bay Metro Light Rail Extension project, which will run 4.6 miles south, cost $891 million and add four new stations to the existing Green Line. The Metro plans on funding the proposed expansion with the $619 million of Measure M funds it will receive annually.
The Metro has also said it will soon issue requests for proposals for three additional transit projects, also funded by Measure M proceeds. The RFPs are being developed using unsolicited public-private partnership (P3) proposals the agency received and will specify that the projects be undertaken as P3s.