By Jerry Maynard
Over the last few weeks, the discussion around the proposed transit plan has become increasingly vitriolic and unhelpful.
I fear we’ve reached a point where we aren’t even debating the actual plan anymore, instead using previous disappointments as reasons to oppose what’s on the table. We cannot allow past failings to stop progress, to stop future improvements, to stop real engagement with our community.
Let’s take a step back.
This process started in 2012 with NashvilleNext, followed by nMotion; it did not suddenly appear in front of us last fall. The plan is based on what was found in the process – not only that people agreed that all communities, from those in the urban core to those in the suburbs, will continue to suffer from traffic unless we take action to do something about it – but that people wanted the city to step up and solve the problem.
Our traffic adversely affects the quality of life for everyone. There are families right now that have trouble making ends meet because they don’t have access to good-paying jobs due to inadequate public transportation. There are students today who have difficulty getting to and succeeding in school because they have to take multiple lines just to get to campus. This is unacceptable.
We must put in place a transit system that allows everyone who calls Nashville home to live the life they want. The cost of transportation cannot continue to be a barrier for our people. We must do better.
Nashville will continue to have growing pains – like affordable housing, education, health care and public safety – whether this transit plan passes or not. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether this is a viable solution to the traffic that negatively impacts us every single day.
The answer to the question must come from you.
There are those who have made up their minds and don’t want to listen to any argument that this plan could benefit our city. If you don’t want to listen, I do hope you at least get the facts.
If this plan passes in May, you’ll see increased bus service immediately, you’ll see better bus service immediately, you’ll have less congestion with bus rapid transit lines immediately. In a few years, light rail will start taking thousands of cars off our streets. No matter what naysayers may say about the plan – that is real.
As a city, we need to make a serious investment in our infrastructure. More than anything, that’s what this plan does. It creates the dedicated funding to address our city’s transportation system.
The plan will give people concrete economic opportunities by creating almost 4,000 good-paying jobs a year for hardworking Nashvillians. By law, this project MUST have AT LEAST 20 percent minority- and woman-owned business participation in its creation.
Opposition to the transit plan loves to tout that the actual cost of the transit plan is $9 billion. Using that number, that means there is a potential $1.8 billion via DBE participation that could go to businesses of color if it passes. This is an investment in the minority communities of Nashville.
If the plan passes, it will be up to each and every resident to make sure Metro complies with the inclusivity law. You can bet I will be there with you. I had the privilege of serving as a Metro councilmember, and I feel a responsibility to advocate for the issues I feel will improve our community. I did it as a councilman, I’m doing it today, and I will continue to do it in the future.
Questioning and holding government responsible for its words and actions is healthy, but you can’t let creeping cynicism allow you to lose hope in the future. You can’t allow existing problems to stand in the way of meaningful progress.
In the past, we saw similar concerns raised about the Titans stadium, Bridgestone Arena, the new Sounds stadium, Music City Center. These are all major, successful investments we’ve made as a city that have improved the quality of life for people here.
I truly believe this transit plan is the next great project that will bring benefits to everyone in Nashville. But don’t take my word for it. Get the facts yourself.