PHOTO: Leaders and residents of Williamson County collectively share problem areas and possible solutions for Nashville’s south corridor. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC), a public body composed of local leaders that aims to guide growth and development in the region, met Friday morning in Nashville to discuss the current state of mobility in the Greater Nashville area, as well as plans to incorporate more “smart mobility” options for citizens in the future.
Held at the Adventure Science Center in south Nashville, the workshop saw leaders from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), the engineering firm Stantec, as well as Vanderbilt University discuss the possible future of transportation in the Greater Nashville area. Future transportation methods discussed ranged everywhere from electric bicycles to light rail transit and commuter rails.
Following presentations from leaders, those in attendance were split into groups, with each group dedicated to discussing a specific corridor. One such corridor was Nashville’s south corridor, which runs from downtown Nashville down to Columbia.
Crowded around a large map of I-65 from Columbia to Nashville, residents and local leaders shared some of their personal experiences with getting around. The single largest problem area in terms of transportation mentioned by the group was the intersection of I-65 and Old Hickory Boulevard in Brentwood. Almost unanimously, the group said the area can be a nightmare to traverse during peak congestion time.
Representatives from TDOT said the area around Old Hickory Boulevard and I-65 would “ultimately be a huge project that’s going to take everybody’s cooperation to fix,” as the area spans over multiple jurisdictions and multiple signal systems, due to the road crossing in and out of Nashville and Brentwood city limits.
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dan Work also spoke during the workshop, and briefly outlined some of America’s cities known for having some of the best transportation systems. Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, California, and Austin, Texas were all cities listed. Freeze went on to explain that the Greater Nashville area could be unique in its future transportation means, even compared to these cities, due to one major difference.
“In all those examples of “smart cities,” and all that stuff we see around the country, there really isn’t a region doing what you’re doing,” Work said. “Some of those cities are so big they may feel like a region, but I think the collaboration, as much as we point to how it needs to be maintained and improved here, is actually unique to the country.”
Following Work’s discussions on “smart cities,” Director of Traffic Operations for TDOT Brad Freeze broke down the phasing of implementing improvements in all of Greater Nashville’s corridors, including its south corridor through Williamson County.
This meeting, dubbed the “Smart Mobility Workshop,” was the first of its kind, and was designed to inform the public on the implementation of future investments in mobility technology. For more details, click here to view the GNRC’s latest mobility report.