Friday, April 6, 2018

Councilman John Cooper: Transit plan is not a flexible plan

From No Tax 4 Tracks: We pay a lot of attention to what Metro Council member at large

John Cooper
John Cooper says.

He’s thoughtful.  He does his homework.  And he’s committed to a better Nashville.

So, when we saw his comments on Facebook about the $9-billion light rail plan, we took notice.

Mayor Briley and pro-transit people consistently say the plan is flexible, it can adapt.

Cooper doesn’t see it that way.

“By state law, there are 250 words that are going to be on the ballot that describe this transit. And this is a proxy. The 250 words are a proxy for the 55-page document which is available online, which I do encourage people to read. And that document is very important. It’s very detailed, and it really has an effective…force…of law. And so, the four bus rapid transit lines and the five railroad lines, and the tunnel is all in this document. And for that document to be changed, it has to be declared impossible, financially unfeasible, then the council has to say that it was unfeasible and then there has to be another referendum. So, it’s not that flexible of a plan.”

Charlotte, North Carolina.  Lots of talk about their system.  So, Cooper went.

“I went to City Hall and showed myself around and learned what I could, and they were very nice. And every single person there said, “What are you telling people in Nashville about transit”? And I said, well, congestion. That’s a big problem in Nashville. And to a person, everyone in Charlotte said, “You cannot say that. Congestion will get worse with transit.” And then I said, “Well why’d you do it in Charlotte?” and they said, “Development, development.”

“Fundamentally, this transit bill is about adding a large number of people to downtown Nashville — on the order of 200,000 people to downtown Nashville. If your transit-oriented development districts run at the density they feel it needs to be run at — in Charlotte that’s 22 people an acre — we have over 9,000 acres that’s going to a transit-oriented development district, that is relocating a city the size of Chattanooga or Orlando, Florida to downtown Nashville. So, ultimately this plan probably does not address congestion at all; it probably creates congestion.”

Congestion. I-65, 24, 40 and 440 and this plan.  Cooper says:

“They’re two entirely separate systems. One will serve downtown Nashville, and the other will not — there’s no way that you can pull off the interstate and use the transit. Now the internal downtown Nashville transit system will serve the people, but those are people who are not yet here. They are not yet here. So, the federal projections for population growth in Davidson County between now and 2032 is only, we will go from 685,000 to 740,000 — that’s more people for sure. But most of those people are already moving into downtown Nashville and really don’t need a regional transit system. Where the great growth is coming from are in all the surrounding counties — the Sumner, the Wilson, the Rutherford, and Williamson; and fundamentally they don’t link into this transit system. Now they may one day, but it is like that baseball movie “Field of Dreams” — build it and they will come. You’re taking this speculative idea of development in the future.”

It’s not that flexible of a plan.

...this plan probably does not address congestion at all; it probably creates congestion.

It is like that baseball movie “Field of Dreams” — build it and they will come. You’re taking this speculative idea of development in the future.

We think Cooper makes a lot of sense.

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