Nashville voters reject $5.4 billion transit plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan to pay for a $5.4 billion mass transit system that called for a 26-mile light-rail system, bus improvements and a downtown tunnel.

The $5.4 billion plan would have included five light-rail lines, an overhaul of the bus system, 19 neighborhood transit centers, sidewalks, bike lanes and synchronized lights.

The plan would have been funded by increases in sales, business, rental car and hotel taxes. And while the capital costs of the project were pegged at $5.4 billion, the total cost was expected to reach $9 billion with added debt and maintenance costs.

A mix of liberals and conservatives, combined with outside interests, rejected the plan. Opponents said the measure was too costly and would not alleviate traffic congestion, and said the light-rail component outdated.

Some feared the plan would increase development and gentrification in a rapidly growing city that is already pricing people out because of the rising cost of housing. Some advocates for affordable housing came out against the measure.

Backers of the plan had hoped that more people would vote for it because of the city’s daily traffic snarls. Nashville was recently named the 27th most congested city in America by transportation analytics firm INRIX.

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