Fasten your seat belts because leaders in Williamson County and throughout Middle Tennessee are addressing the transportation challenges of the future.
"Alternative modes of transportation today are all about green – saving green dollars in your wallet, protecting a green environment and preserving a green infrastructure where roadways don't have to be rebuilt as often,” says Debbie Henry, executive director of Franklin-based Transportation Management Association Group.
Save $4,000 a Year
TMA Group is trying to do its part by overseeing a VanStar program that offers vanpools every weekday to transport commuters, with many of the routes going from Brentwood and Cool Springs to downtown Nashville and back.
"Commuters pay a monthly fare, based on miles and people in the vehicle, and the vanpools run five days a week, 52 weeks a year,” Henry says. “Estimates show that riders save about $4,000 annually, compared to driving their own vehicles to work, with savings on gas, insurance, maintenance and parking.”
TMA Group also oversees a Franklin Trolley that provides a bus transit service for people in the Franklin and Cool Springs area.
"There isn't just one answer to the whole transportation congestion and pollution solution,” Henry says. "Every little bit helps. Whether it's a carpool, vanpool, express vehicles – even Nissan with its electric Leaf cars is helping with answers.”
Another answer is being furnished by the Regional Transportation Authority, which gives residents the option of riding an express bus to and from work every day. The daily routes from Brentwood/Franklin operate during rush hour and go to-and-from downtown Nashville and Vanderbilt University. RTA has also established hundreds of carpools throughout the region, and maintains a database of commuters located throughout Middle Tennessee who are interested in carpools.
Concord and Franklin Roads
Another player in the alternative transportation effort for this region is the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. MPO makes regional recommendations for transportation upgrade projects that will be funded with state or federal dollars.
"For Brentwood in the short term, MPO has mapped out an improvement project for Concord Road that includes widening it from two lanes to five lanes between Arrowhead Drive and Jones Parkway,” says Mary Beth Ikard, Nashville Area MPO communications director. “There will also be added bikeways and walkways along Concord Road, plus synchronization of traffic signals for free flow, and the elimination of hazardous curves.”
Ikard says Franklin Road will also see improvements in the short term, with a widening from two to five lanes between Moores Lane and Concord Road. There will also be a 10-foot-wide bikeway/walkway added to the west side of the road.
"Then, beginning in 2013, there will be a major transit study addressing the south corridor between Nashville and communities along U.S. 31 and I-65,” she says. “It will focus on transportation strategies and ridership projections, so we can continue to move forward with smart solutions.”