Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nashville meetings seek input on mass transit's future

Tennessean STAFF REPORTS • July 28, 2009 The public can learn about and comment on plans for mass transit and recreation this week. Metropolitan Transit Authority will hold the first of four meetings tonight to discuss its strategic plan, which will guide mass transit through 2035. The plan sets goals, priorities and actions for public transportation in Nashville and provides guidance and strategy for decisions about public transportation for Metro. Metro Transit's leader, Paul Ballard, says Nashville and the region are at a crossroads for transportation and that many people are ready for alternative options to driving. MTA opened its downtown Nashville transit center, Music City Central, last fall and saw bus ridership boom when fuel prices topped $4. MTA staff also assumed operation of the Music City Star, the region's only commuter rail line. There are also new initiatives by Metro and the state to encourage environmentally sensitive policies and practices and to develop so-called "green jobs." One of those was legislation that gives local communities the option of creating a dedicated funding source for public transit in their communities. "The next five to 10 years and beyond are critical to developing a world-class public transportation system for Nashville," Ballard said in a news release. "Public transportation goes hand in hand with economic development, tourism and jobs growth and is a critical part of any city's success." Meetings start tonight The meetings will include a presentation and then discussion. Refreshments will be served. The schedule: • Tonight, 5-6:30, North Branch Library, 1001 Monroe St. Presentation at 5:30 p.m. Bus service is available on Routes 29 and 42. • Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Music City Central, 400 Charlotte Ave. Presentation at noon. • Wednesday, 5-6:30 p.m. at Southeast Branch Library, 2325 Hickory Highlands Drive, Antioch. Presentation at 5:30 p.m. Bus service on Route 15. • Thursday, 5-6:30 p.m. at Green Hills Library, 3701 Benham Ave. Presentation at 5:30 p.m. Bus service on Route 7. Those who don't attend a meeting can still comment. The draft of the strategic plan will be available on the Web site www.nashvillemta.org. The Nashville MTA's Strategic Master Plan development is a joint effort between the Nashville MTA, Metropolitan Planning Organization, Metro Planning and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. SOUND OFF: Comments can be mailed to the MTA Planning Department, attn: Public Meeting Comments, 130 Nestor St., Nashville, TN 37210; faxed to 615-862-6208; e-mailed to mta.publicmeetings@nashville.gov; or delivered by phone at MTA Customer Care, 615-862-5950.

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