Light Rail Coming To Gallatin Pike

In the late 1980s, an album collection of up-and-coming Nashville rock bands was titled City Without a Subway. While the limestone bedrock that Music City is built upon may still prohibit visions of “riding the tube,” Nashville may be inching closer to an extensive mass transit system of light rail.
     In April, Mayor Megan Barry announced plans to make Gallatin Pike the first of five planned corridors of light rail. Extending from downtown along Main Street, through East Nashville, Madison, Rivergate, and eventually reaching all the way to Gallatin, the proposed light rail line system would allow commuters to board electric trains and zip quickly up and down the corridor, bypassing congested traffic on the existing roadways.
     While only preliminary design work has been completed to date, Nashville’s nMotion 25-year transportation strategic plan calls for light rail lines that would eventually run along Gallatin Pike, Murfreesboro Pike, Charlotte Pike, Nolensville Pike, and the northwest corridors, stretching from North Nashville to Clarksville. The light rail system would run on dedicated routes separate from vehicular lanes utilizing one to three cars. Stops would be expected every 10 minutes or less. The nMotion plan outlines a $5.97 billion regional transit system to be constructed over 25 years, with the light rail system as one component of a larger Middle Tennessee network.
     According to a story published in The Tennessean, Metro Transit Authority CEO Steve Bland said the preference would be to build all five rail lines simultaneously, but such a plan was “neither affordable nor practical.” Gallatin Pike was chosen as the first route for construction based on the present high rate of bus ridership along the corridor.
     At her April press conference, Mayor Barry noted that the light rail plan was essential to Nashville, saying, “I’m excited to have the city start the process of making light rail available to our citizens.”