The transit plan that would have brought five light-rail lines, four rapid bus corridors, and an underground tunnel to ease car traffic in metro Nashville failed in Monday's referendum vote by a margin of about 64 percent to 36 percent.
The Let's Move Nashville plan introduced by former Mayor Megan Barry called for an increase in the city's sales taxes, hotel taxes, car rental taxes and business taxes to fund the construction and operation of the transit system. The cost for construction was estimated at $5.4 billion, with another $3.6 billion anticipated for operations and maintenance costs.
The largest civic project Nashville has ever proposed would not have been completed until at least 2032.
Mayor David Briley, who succeeded Barry upon her resignation in March, said Nashville’s “transportation problems are not going away.”
“We all can agree that we have to do something about traffic and transportation, but voters didn’t get behind this plan,” he said in a statement. “I’ll get back to work tomorrow on finding a solution for Nashville that we all can agree on.”
The defeat marks the chamber’s second failed attempt to bring large-scale transit options to the city. In 2014, the chamber pushed for the 7-mile bus rapid transit AMP project, led by then-Mayor Karl Dean, but the measure failed to move forward.
Opposition efforts were led by NoTax4Tracks who framed the plan as benefitting downtown Nashville and not the mid-Tennessee region. Nashville's transportation is primarily automobile based and with an expected 1 million new people moving into the region by 2040, the Transit for Nashville coalition has been attempting to solve Nashville's current and future mass transit needs.
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce president Ralph Schulz said it could take six to 10 years before Nashville voters could see another transit plan.
Nashville politics played a heavy part in the vote and The Tennessean says the transit vote looms over the May 24 special mayoral election. Read more about Nashville's transit proposal here: