‘Let’s Move Nashville’ to create thousands of jobs, produce billions in economic activity during construction

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says that if ‘Let’s Move Nashville: Metro’s Transportation Solution’ is approved, the $5.4-billion, multiyear construction period needed to build the citywide transit infrastructure network of rails, transit centers, and a downtown tunnel will create thousands of local jobs and generate billions of dollars of economic impact directly within the city.

“This transit plan is dedicated to the principle that Nashville’s growth should work for Nashville, and that this growth can’t leave anyone behind,” said Mayor Barry. “This starts by making sure that in investing in the plan, we’re investing in our city to the greatest extent possible—and that Nashvillians in every neighborhood have access to the opportunities created by building a new transportation network.”

The Transit Improvement Plan, filed in coordination with the ordinance the Metro Council introduced forecasts that building the 28 miles of light rail and infrastructure for 25 miles of rapid and enhanced bus service will produce $3.1 billion in local labor income and generate $4 billion gross regional product, stimulating additional growth in the area. Further analysis provided in a report from Wilmot Inc. shows that operations and maintenance will add an additional $548 million in labor income and $746 million in GDP growth during the construction phase of the program. The analysis estimates that some 3,850 jobs a year would be created or maintained throughout the 14-year duration of the construction. Jobs would range from system construction and service to maintenance and operations. Workforce hiring will prioritize local workers, particularly those disadvantaged groups and contractors who face employment barriers.

“We have the lowest unemployment rate of the top 50 metro areas in the country, but still residents struggle to find good-paying jobs that will lift them and their families out of poverty,” said Barry. “As we implement this plan, we will work closely with workforce advocates to help train and recruit Davidson County workers for the thousands of jobs created by this program, while also ensuring women- and minority-owned businesses are able to compete for the billions of dollars in spending needed to make this program a reality.”

The Plan provides the most detailed, corridor-by-corridor analysis yet of the proposed project area, estimating between 35 and 40 million annual transit riders system-wide, the majority on rapid bus or light rail alone.

Average weekday ridership per mile of light rail track in Nashville is forecast to be 2,230 people by the year 2040, comparable to or better than some transit-oriented cities like Seattle or Denver. The corridor analysis makes Let’s Move Nashville competitive for potential federal funding.

By 2040, 76% of Davidson County residents and 89% of jobs will be within half a mile of bus, rapid bus or light rail service. Service analysis shows that a light rail trip on Nolensville Pike near Harding Place to downtown can be completed in just 19 minutes, while a trip from downtown to the airport would take just 26 minutes. A rapid bus ride from Dickerson Pike near Doverside Drive to downtown would take 35 minutes, just three minutes longer than a trip from the proposed

SoBro transit center to the end of the Bordeaux Rapid Bus Corridor—at Clarksville Pike and Kings Lane.

“People need more options to get around. When transit service is fast, reliable, convenient and affordable, many will choose it over driving,” said Barry. “But buses in Nashville today are stuck in the same traffic as everyone in cars. This isn’t because transit is failing us, it’s because we’re failing our transit network. We now have a chance to reverse that and give it the tools it needs to succeed.”

More details of the potential economic impacts of the plan are expected as work continues to calculate productivity improve-ments throughout the Nashville economy, and the economic impact will also be significantly affected by moving more people more efficiently and stimulating new economic growth and investments.