Transportation issues looming for Middle Tennessee

Williamson Inc. held its quarterly Public Affairs Roundtable May 8 to discuss transportation issues & planning. The panel included Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization Director Michael Skipper, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Franklin Capital Projects Director David Parker, and Bob Murphy, president of RPM Transportation consultants. The event was held at Spark at Cool Springs, an offshoot of Lipscomb University.

In an event on May 7 at Lipscomb University, the fifth class of the Tennessee Citizen Transit Academy graduated. One class produced a video on “Why We Should Be Considering Transit Options.” Follow the link to watch it on YouTube.

Skipper once again detailed growth projections developed by the MPO, which includes parts of seven counties in Middle Tennessee as part of its jurisdiction, but includes 10 counties for planning purposes.

By 2035, the Nashville MSA 10-county region is expected to grow to 2.6 million people and to 3 million by 2040, making us larger than the Denver MSA.

Skipper also said while the national average is that Americans spend 18% of their household income on transportation costs, in Middle Tennessee, 90% of households are spending over 20% of their household budget on transportation.

When asked to detail their ideas for transportation, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson listed three ideas — dedicated funding for transportation improvement, allowing a better working relationship through relaxed legislative oversight of the relationship between cities and counties without metropolitan government, and allowing and encouraging cities and counties to cooperatively create an overall transportation plan.

Franklin Mayor Ken Moore also talked about dedicated funding, but also pointed to the need for education and greater use of alternative forms of transportation, including multi-modal transportation and rideshare program.

Murphy, whose company works with public and private entities to plan transportation improvements, said we need a philosophical change among residents about travel, with the consideration of transit or other non-vehicle modes of connectivity. He also said while many officials are focused on the lack of funding sources at the state and local level, a crisis is also looming on the federal level as the highway trust fund is depleted due to lack of congressional support.

Parker, who oversees improvements inside the City of Franklin, said as a community we must look at transportation modes. For the first time, as the City of Franklin updates its transportation plan, it will include review of land use planning and the availability of multi-modal transportation.

The May 8 meeting was taped by WC-TV Cable Channel and will be rebroadcast.