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Transportation options to be addressed for Sumner motorists

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Steve Bland

Transportation improvements are underway, but it will still be up to Sumner citizens to fix congestion. Regional Transportation Authority to update Sumner County residents on the nMotion Strategic Plan.

Sumner County's growth is something to be proud of and concerned about, particularly if you must regularly traverse the county or other parts of Middle Tennessee for school or work.

ThinkTennesssee recently reported that Nashville area drivers spend nearly a full work week (33.6 hours) sitting in traffic a year, each losing an average of $1,308 each year to traffic-related costs.

A number of planned transportation improvements are currently planned or underway for Sumner County, including new or modified interchanges off of I-65 and the continued widening of SR 109 and SR 386. Road improvements alone will not fix future traffic concerns, and current commute times are forecasted to double in some areas. Thankfully, the county now has a comprehensive and regionally integrated transportation plan and some new options for making recommendations a reality.

Last September, the RTA approved nMotion, a strategic plan for expanded travel options throughout the region. A massive culmination of technical studies, market analyses, system assessments, peer city reviews and public input from across the 10-county region, this 25-year plan includes a number of public transportation improvements for Sumner, including the creation of a stronger transit system for Sumner residents.

How the entire plan gets funded is still a question. Sumner has options that other counties don't because Tennessee's IMPROVE ACT permits counties with more than 100,000 residents to hold a local referendum, allowing residents to vote for transit-system funding.

Nashville's Mayor Megan Barry made it clear in her most recent budget address that she plans to use this option to fund major improvements to Metro Davidson County's transit system.

This is important to Sumner in several ways: (1) Improvements in Davidson County's transit systems will make it more feasible for Sumner residents working in Nashville to use alternative forms of transportation. (2) Mayor Berry's goal of putting light rail along Gallatin Pike in Nashville is generating strong private development interest along Gallatin Pike, which will likely extend into Sumner. (3) Sumner leaders wanting to address future traffic concerns can watch to see how their Davidson County neighbors --both car commuters and public transit users--embrace an efficient and adequately funded transit system.

The RTA of Middle Tennessee is holding a series of informational meetings in each of its counties to update citizens on the nMotion strategic plan and what the "next steps" could mean to them. The first of these sessions for Sumner County is Thursday, July 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Volunteer State Community College, 1480 Gallatin Pike, Gallatin. Light refreshments will be provided by Wilson Bank and Trust. Citizens should pre-register for this space-limited event by going online at https://kbs.wufoo.com/forms/z1r30fue18kifyp/

Steve Bland is chief executive officer of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority, Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee.

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