Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Connect Downtown Project Team Releases Final Recommendations

Metro Nashville Press Release, April 15, 2024- Today the Connect Downtown Project Team released the Connect Downtown Action Plan final recommendations for comprehensive multimodal improvements in Downtown Nashville. The planning project is a partnership between the Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT), WeGo Public Transit, The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Nashville Downtown Partnership. The Action Plan includes recommendations called “Big Moves” that are guided by the project’s six goals to make multimodal travel easier and safer in Downtown Nashville.
Connect Downtown strives to ensure Downtown is:
  • Safe and Comfortable: Create transportation networks that enhance the quality of life for all Nashvillians, especially the city’s most vulnerable travelers;
  • Connected and Convenient: Develop an integrated mobility system that seamlessly and efficiently connects downtown Nashville with easy-to-use and reliable travel options;
  • Equitable and Accessible: Ensure equal access to mobility options that meet the needs of everyone traveling to, through, and around downtown Nashville;
  • Sustainable and Resilient: Address the climate crisis to create a more resilient downtown Nashville and Middle Tennessee region;
  • Vibrant and Inviting: Maintain a prosperous downtown by providing a transportation system that makes it easier to do business and encourages people to spend time here; and,
  • Balanced and Reliable: Expand and enhance mobility choices to manage traffic congestion and create a more predictable transportation system in downtown Nashville.
“As we aim to improve mobility everywhere in Nashville, downtown plays a critical role and this effort will ensure more efficient movement for everyone, mirroring the goals outlined in our Choose How You Move program,” said Mayor Freddie O’Connell. “I’m encouraged to see an emphasis on smart traffic signals, mobility lanes for people biking and scooting, and dedicated transit lanes to make the bus more reliable for WeGo riders. This plan, once implemented, will make Downtown work better for everyone, including business owners, delivery drivers, neighborhood residents, and those visiting our city.”
Connect Downtown is a 10-year action plan with projects, programs, and policy recommendations that will be delivered in three phases and are organized into five high-level “big moves”. The final recommendations include near-term quick wins as well as longer-term projects to improve mobility in the downtown core.
“The delivery of the Connect Downtown plan marks the end of a two-year journey of public engagement and forward thinking planning to enhance our City’s connectivity,” said District 19 Metro Council Member Jacob Kupin. “I appreciate the hard work of the partners, including NDOT, WeGo, TDOT, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership as well as the stakeholders, who have shared their feedback along the way. I’m excited for the short term changes that will bring immediate benefit to the downtown core, as well as the long-term progress we will make over the 10 year execution of the plan.”
The five “big moves” include:
  • Manage Congestion: Upgrade signals, improve traffic operations, and better manage events to keep people moving and improve system resiliency;
  • Improve Safety: Advance Vision Zero projects and programs to make downtown’s streets safer for people, especially downtown’s most vulnerable travelers;
  • Move More People: Prioritize buses on key corridors and increase the amount of service to provide faster and more reliable trips throughout the region;
  • Create Complete Networks: Develop safe, separated, and connected walking, rolling, biking, and scooting facilities to help people of all ages and abilities get into and around downtown;
  • Maximize the Curb: Flex the uses of the curb throughout the day for deliveries, service vehicles, and passenger pick-up and drop-off to support local businesses and residents.
The first phase of implementation will focus on quick wins, which includes technology-focused projects (e.g., new signals), curb management activities (e.g., Smart Loading Zone Pilot Program), and quick-build projects (e.g. mobility lanes). The Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) and WeGo Transit will be actively and continuously evaluating implementation activities and will make adjustments as needed, while also beginning engineering studies and preliminary design for more complex projects.
Some words from the project partners:
“As the region continues to grow so does congestion and the need for greater mobility options,” said Deputy Governor and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Butch Eley. “TDOT’s Choice Lanes Program, which allows for more transit opportunities, is the perfect example of how we can move the needle and connect to or expand on the larger system as an integrated approach to improved mobility which aligns well with the goals and big moves in the Connect Downtown Plan.”
“The transit enhancements in the Connect Downtown Plan will not only improve the flow of buses into and through Downtown Nashville but will also improve the overall reliability of transit connections between neighborhoods outside the downtown core,” said WeGo Transit Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve Bland.
“We are excited that the first phase of the plan brings a comprehensive investment in technology to mitigate congestion and improve mobility,” said Nashville Downtown Partnership President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Turner. “This singular solution will positively impact all who live, work, play or invest in and around downtown Nashville.”
“Our five ‘Big Moves’ represent a strong commitment to promoting multimodal connectivity to and through Downtown Nashville,” said Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) Director Diana Alarcon. “From curb management to dedicated space for transit, Connect Downtown addresses some of our biggest challenges in our busiest commercial district and one of our most dense neighborhoods.”
The Action Plan containing final recommendations will be considered by Metro Council on April 16.
Rod's Comment: This is not the same as the mayor's big transit proposal. This does not require a dedicated source of revenue. It spends no money. It is a plan. I would have liked it better if they had left out the greenwashing and used the term "equal" instead of "equitable," but that is kind of harmless really, just liberal pablum. I have not yet read the plan itself, just this press release. All of the things revealed in this press release sound reasonable. We need improvement is signalization and curb access and some changes in the bus service, and as one who walks almost daily, I would like to see improvements for pedestrian safety. The mayor's big transit reveal is Friday. 

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