Charlotte Avenue Light Rail Corridor extended in Mayor’s transit plan

The proposed high-capacity transit line would extend to White Bridge Pike in keeping with the nMotion strategic plan. (photo from Google Street View)

The proposed high-capacity transit line would extend to White Bridge Pike in keeping with the nMotion strategic plan. (photo from Google Street View)

Mayor Megan Barry joined elected officials and small business owners announced that the Charlotte Avenue Light Rail Corridor, identified in Let’s Move Nashville: Metro’s Transportation Solution, would be extended beyond its current endpoint at I-440 towards White Bridge Pike, providing greater coverage for the West Nashville community. The mayor spoke at an event hosted by The Café at Thistle Farms, a Charlotte Avenue business poised to benefit from the additional two miles of rail connecting with downtown.

“Direct, high-capacity transit is an opportunity for businesses and residents alike, and it won’t stop short on Charlotte Avenue,” said Mayor Barry. “Our revised finance plan gives us the opportunity to better connect West Nashville with the city’s transit network and provide even more residents with access to jobs and amenities available along the corridor and in the booming job centers downtown.”

The announcement brings the Charlotte Light Rail Corridor in line with the recommendations made in phase one of the region’s nMotion strategic plan. Charlotte is one of the most densely developed corridors of the five light rail routes, with the largest concentration of jobs per acre and mixed-use developments west of I-440 that can be effectively served by reliable transit.

“While the transit plan as was first introduced was a great start, this addition makes it an even better program for the entire community,” said District 24 Council Member Kathleen Murphy. “I look forward to working with Mayor Barry and my constituents to encourage all Nashvillians to vote FOR transit in May of next year.”

Extension of the line will better connect The Nations and Sylvan Park neighborhoods with the transit network, and bring rail to the doorstep of communities in Bellevue and West Nashville. With this addition, the Charlotte corridor will now have 5.2 miles of rail at a total cost of $697 million.

“I’m in full support of the mayor’s plan to extend the transit line further westward on Charlotte,” said District 20 Council Member Mary Carolyn Roberts. “Our continued growth necessitates the need for a comprehensive transit system that includes more connectivity between downtown and the Western end of Metro. I’m thrilled that we are moving in that direction.”

Resources for the additional segment of the Charlotte corridor were identified during further reviews of the financing plan being prepared for an independent audit. Sales taxes generated at certain facilities such as the Music City Center and First Tennessee Park are currently redirected towards the bonds on those facilities. Initial revenue forecasts were based on local option sales taxes that are used for the operating budget, and therefore did not account for surcharges that would be generated at those facilities. When recalculated with those facilities and areas currently utilizing a sales tax redirect, additional funds were realized in the financing plan that would allow for the expansion of the transit network. The proposed surcharges have not been changed.

“The extension of light rail to White Bridge means greater access for Thistle Farms graduates, employees, and customers,” said Hal Cato, CEO of Thistle Farms. “Better public transportation options are critical to connecting our community in new ways and promoting greater opportunity for all. I look forward to the day I can use light rail to move around this city.”

Let’s Move Nashville is a $5.4 billion infrastructure investment that will be funded by a range of fees, including business, sales and tourism taxes. The plan originated after many years of study and community engagements through the nMotion strategic plan, which was led by MTA and RTA, as well as coordination at the state and local level. It includes 28.4 miles of Nashville’s first-ever light rail system, four rapid bus routes, a dramatic increase in the service and frequency of the bus system, and a strategy of service and infrastructure improvements. Once the transit improvement plan is fully reviewed by the community and approved by an independent CPA firm with criteria set forth by the Tennessee State Comptroller’s Office, the Metro Council will be asked to consider an ordinance that will authorize the plan to be placed on the ballot for the May 1, 2018 election.