The Regional Transportation Authority board of directors adopted the plan last year. The nMotion plan is the culmination of more than a year of an aggressive community outreach campaign that generated almost 20,000 survey responses and comments from Middle Tennesseans at community meetings, online surveys and neighborhood events.
Steve Bland, CEO of the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee, said about 1,000 people provided input for the plan in Wilson County.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said the plan is a part of a need to prepare for a rapid increase in population in the area.
“We need to be proactive. So many times in our government, we’re reactive. You gives an issue, and we’ll do our best to deal with it, because we’re dealing with your money and how we spend that’s important,” said Hutto, who said because of the growth of Nashville, surrounding areas would feel the impact. “There are other cities that we travel to, like Murfreesboro, where it’s tough to get around in. As we know, growth is coming.”
Bland said the county’s population, expected to top 232,000 people by 2040, creates problems and opportunities for transportation.
“What’s going on in Middle Tennessee right now is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That change is going to come. The question is how do we, as current residents of Middle Tennessee, want it to happen. You absolutely have the opportunity to shape your communities and do things intentionally, as opposed to just letting that wave hit you,” Bland said.
Bland said Wilson County starts with a leg up on surrounding counties for transportation plans because of the presence of the Music City Star. He said future plans for the Music City Star include more service availability, modern improvements and a short-line extension to the Wilson County James E. Ward Agricultural Center.
Bland said Tennessee Department of Transportation engineers have said even with the passage of Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, the state does not have enough money to expand roadway capacity to accommodate the future growth.
“We have to be able to figure out how to squeeze more people into the same amount of space,” Bland said.
He said one solution would be more mixed-use communities, such as Hamilton Springs, which broke ground for a Music City Star stop last month.
“The idea is not that it’s all built around transit. I prefer to think of it as people-oriented development, because what they’re talking about [at Hamilton Station] is not just housing where you’re near a train station. It’s about starting to build in mix uses where I can get that cup of coffee without jumping in my car,” Bland said.
Bland said the group would continue to have conversations with local governments and planning agencies, but Wilson County is ahead of other counties due to its recognition of the Music City Star as an asset and the county’s governmental leadership.