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Fox, City Council carry commuter rail project
Nov 24, 2004 12:00 am
It appears with the arrival of actual tracks to the rail right-of-ways across Wilson County, commuter rail is very close to becoming a reality for Middle Tennessee.
It has been a very long journey.
Since the movement to bring commuter rail to the Nashville metropolitan area began in the late 1990s, there have been plenty of champions and nay sayers.
However, at the front of the line pushing and coaxing the commuter rail movement along has been the constant presence of Lebanon Mayor Don Fox and Lebanon City Council.
Though his manner at times toward rail was cantankerous, Fox was there asking the tough questions and making sure they were answered. Working in concert were the past and present versions of the City Council, staying consistent in their support of a project that will ultimately serve as a statewide model.
While other governments at times in Wilson County have been less than supportive, Lebanon city government has met the challenges and opportunities of commuter rail.
The work with commuter rail is not yet over. There is still more work to be done.
Just as Wilson County has served as a model for economic development across the state, our local governments must also find creative ways to make commuter rail pay off for citizens and taxpayers. It is not likely the rider county on the Lebanon-to-Nashville line will ever allow this piece of infrastructure to actually be a positive revenue source. Instead, commuter rail must be treated like infrastructure that will enhance the area's quality of life and economic profile.
Local government in Lebanon and elsewhere in Wilson County must find ways to make the commuter rail stations attractive locations for retail development, a common factor in commuter rail development in other major cities.
Being able to tie commercial development and an enhancement to the tax base to the development of commuter rail will be an important step to making the model work for the rest of Tennessee.
Commuter rail is an idea whose time in Tennessee has come. Lebanon and the rest of Wilson County need to make sure it works for our taxpayers and the communities that will follow our lead in the future.