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Nashville Mayor Unveils Sweeping $5.2 Billion Transit Proposal

The new system, which includes light rail and a tunnel below the city's downtown, would be the most expensive project in Nashville history.

Calling it an "investment in Nashville's future" that can't wait, Mayor Megan Barry on Tuesday unveiled a monumental proposal for a $5.2 billion mass transit system, the most expensive, far-reaching and complicated project in Metro history.

Barry wants Nashvillians to go to the polls in May to approve via referendum raising four taxes to pay for the massive undertaking — a combination of 26 miles of light rail, expanded bus service, and a major tunnel below downtown that would serve as a central connecting point for the city’s new transit lines.

Leading the way as a revenue generator would be a one-half percent hike to the sales tax that would jump to 1 percent in 2023. She’s also proposed increases to the city’s hotel-motel tax, rental car tax and business and excise tax.

 After months of behind-the-scenes work on the effort, Barry presented the legacy-defining — and potentially controversial — project to city leaders at Music City Center on Tuesday morning. She said more transportation options will improve Nashville’s quality of life and make Nashville a better place for generations.

“This comprehensive transportation solution will connect more neighborhoods with each other and open the door even wider to the city’s job, education and entertainment centers,” Barry said. “We will make sure that no one is left behind.”

Dubbed “Let’s Move Nashville: Metro's Transporation Solution," the entire project has a timeline 15 years, with improvements to existing Metro Transit Authority bus services on tap in 2019. But the first light rail line would not open until 2026.

Zach Patton -- Executive Editor. Zach joined GOVERNING as a staff writer in 2004. He received the 2011 Jesse H. Neal Award for Outstanding Journalism
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