There has been amazing growth and development in many of our existing and newer neighborhoods, that is very attractive and well-managed. There is nothing like good ol’ fashioned capitalism to create and sustain desirable areas in which folks want to live. We need to manage growth, and with that, traffic into and out of the city. My position is we must manage that growth within our budgetary constraints, which means, we cannot and should not, invest billions of borrowed money in order to create a pipe dream of transportation solutions; for instance, tunnels, high speed rail, etc. We can do more with less, if we’re smart about incremental improvements. Therefore, I would encourage looking further into congestion pricing during high traffic count.
Think of congestion pricing (CP) in this way. There is a deeply embedded car culture here, which makes CP a difficult sell. It’s kind of like giving a scholarship to a high schooler who doesn’t quite know their potential yet. For Nashville, I might consider CP superior to other tolls and taxes because it only affects folks commuting into downtown. In addition, it would not impede on healthcare access since Vanderbilt University Medical Center is outside the border. Here’s an idea of this plan.
- For the first year, only implement CP from 6-9am. We need to ease Nashville into this.
- We should provide exemptions for all disabled and possibly household incomes of less than $25k per year.
- Provide a discount to those who live within the CP border, whereas you will get a 90% discount.
- Discounts for those who drive electric or high-mpg vehicles.
- Reduce bus fare to $1 and make the bus free for public school students and senior citizens.
All this could create a realistic transit goal and investment.With money raised from CP, we can hire more people, increase bus frequencies and possibly extend the Music City Star commuter rail to reach neighborhoods as Clarksville and Murfreesboro.
I anticipate CP to be wildly unpopular on its own, however, if we focus on the positive achievements on its own, I believe the general public would eventually agree. This is a very realistic plan and can begin next year. . . not 5 years into tomorrow. The effect will be noticed immediately with commuters spending fewer hours in congested traffic. Let’s face this fact. Widening interstates/streets, adding tunnels and rails; taxpayers WILL pay for this. Why not be realistic and get something started now.
Everyone supports growth, as do I. But, I support managed growth that takes into effect the consequences of that growth. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball on how to prevent the inevitable increased density in our suburbs, other than to continually plan for the impact to growth for such infrastructure basics as schools, water, waste treatment and transit mobility. We should start developing partnerships with neighboring cities in regards to transit and mobility, in order to share costs and benefit all.