Mt. Juliet chamber discusses transit future

Xavier Smith • Feb 21, 2018 at 2:08 PM

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce received information Wednesday about the possible future of transportation in Wilson County and the effect it could have on Mt. Juliet residents.

Julie Navarrete, Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee chief development officer, discussed the projected population increase and its potential effect on transportation in the area.

Navarrete said it’s estimated the Middle Tennessee region’s population will double in the next 10-20 years, which means commute times would likely double, as well. The growth will likely strain current transportation methods, which highlights the importance to find alternative ways to commute across the region.

Navarrete highlighted the Music City Star, which services Wilson County, and the need for additional service times and availability in the future. She also highlighted the need for a local transportation service within Wilson County.

She spoke about the growing interest in transit-oriented developments, such as Hamilton Springs, which is the state’s first transit-oriented development, which looks to reduce the need for single-passenger vehicles.

Navarrete also discussed future changes to State Route 109, which is slated to be finished by 2020.

The State Route 109 project is one of 10 Wilson County road projects funded through the IMPROVE Act, which was passed last year. The department awarded the $50 million project to Vulcan Materials last month. Upgrades included additional lanes, shoulders and dedicated turning lanes.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold a pre-construction meeting for State Route 109 construction Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. at Life Church at 3688 Highway 109.

Jo Ann Graves, president and chief executive of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, discussed a portion of the IMPROVE ACT that includes a local option for cities to hold their own referendums for tax increases to fund local transportation needs.

Graves said there are three steps to get a transportation plan on a referendum, which are to develop a transit improvement program, determine the cost and hold a referendum.

The transit development program should be a coordinated effort between citizens and local governments with the goal of working toward a referendum. Recommendations should be put in writing.

The group would also need to prepare a plan for financing the program, and it should be reviewed by a third-party accounting firm for accuracy and viability.

The plan would then be placed on ballots and voted on by citizens. If it’s approved, collection would start the first day of the month after 60 days following the election.

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