Nashville – an Atlanta competitor – ups the ante on transit investment

Nashville’s mayor has proposed a $5.2 billion mass transit expansion. (Alan Poizner / The Tennessean)

Metro Atlanta political leaders are beginning to sing the same song in support of mass transit. But the region’s economic competitors are not standing back to watch.

On Tuesday Nashville Mayor Megan Barry unveiled a $5.2 billion mass transit plan. According to The Tennessean, it would include 26 miles of new light rail lines, better bus service and a massive tunnel below downtown for transit lines.

Increases to sales, hotel-motel, car rental and business and excise taxes would pay for the projects. Barry wants the plan would go to Nashville voters in May. You can learn more about the proposal here.

Cities like Nashville have gained ground on Atlanta in the competition for conferences and other economic development, and the $5.2 billion plan seems to up the ante for transit investment. Last year Atlanta voters approved a $2.5 billion MARTA expansion. Fulton County leaders also are considering a mass transit plan, and DeKalb may not be far behind.

Amazon’s search for a new corporate headquarters has highlighted the role of mass transit in economic development. The company says it must have access to mass transit – and some political leaders fear parts of metro Atlanta that have resisted transit will be out of the running for Amazon and other top corporate prizes.

A commission studying state funding for public transportation in Georgia may have some preliminary recommendations in time for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.


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