Metropolitan Council Approves $ 564M Capital Expenditure Plan

The Metro Council on Tuesday gave the green light to Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s capital spending plan. But not until he has made his own notable changes.

The council cut $ 15 million for a controversial Jefferson Street Cape project on Interstate 40, and added $ 10.5 million to fund road safety improvements, including along Nolensville Pike near the zoo from Nashville to Grassmere.

With the changes, the plan totals $ 564 million in approved capital spending. The plan went 34-4.

The Cooper administration proposed the initial capital budget of $ 568 million in October. The robust spending plan, which funds one-off projects, is nearly $ 100 million ahead of the mayor’s latest plan released in February.

The plan commits $ 134 million to Metro schools and allocates $ 85 million to expand access to more than 60 acres of Metro parks and greenways. Almost 25% of the funds in the original proposal were spent on improving transport.

The council on Tuesday approved a set of “maintenance” amendments to clean up and clarify several aspects of the plan, including the breakdown of funds listed in the original plan under “restoration and resilience,” funding state partnerships and corridors. innovation.

The amendment commits $ 20 million to purchase six parcels of land to create an East Bank Spine Connector route in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Another “housekeeping” amendment added a cost breakdown for a $ 15 million project to build more garage space at the Nashville Zoo in Grassmere.

Funding for Jefferson Street Cap project canceled

A car crosses the DB Todd Jr. Boulevard Bridge on Interstate 40 on Friday, June 11, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.  Metro Nashville wants to build a ceiling over the freeway to "sew together" communities north and south of I-40.  When the freeway was built in the late 1960s, many residents of North Nashville were shocked by how the freeway split the neighborhood in two.

Extraordinary Council Members Bob Mendes and Sharon Hurt have pushed to cut $ 15 million in funding for a proposed project to “cap” Interstate 40 at Jefferson Street.

The project would cost around $ 120 million in total, with significant funding expected from a federal infrastructure grant. Grant applications are expected to be open around May.

The controversial project was rejected by residents of the Jefferson Street area. Hurt said they did not request the project and preferred to prioritize more immediate community needs.

Council members and neighborhood residents have repeatedly called for a greater community contribution to the project.

“The idea that we would approve a bond debt worth $ 15 million under this project right now with that level of community support, when community meetings had to be canceled and there are regroupings underway on how to do this is just premature, “Mendes said at a meeting of the Committee on Budget and Finance on Monday.

The amendment passed easily on Tuesday. Mendes said council members continue to support the ongoing community conversation about the project, and the project could be part of a capital spending plan next year, depending on what the community wants.

Construction of Interstate 40 destroyed 100 square blocks across northern Nashville, immediately displacing 1,400 residents. The city presented the project as a way to reunite and restore the neighborhood.

Hurt, who has lived in the Bellevue area for 25 years and has served the community for over 40 years, said area residents wanted a new library, community center, high school and other things that would benefit to current residents.

In 2010, 70% of the people on Jefferson Street were black, she said. In 2020, that number fell to 52%. Hurt said she was concerned the project could result in a “delayed displacement” of remaining residents as property values ​​rise.

“We need economic vitality,” Hurt said, “not something to make the community prettier”.

Council member Freddie O’Connell said he had heard support from some area residents for the project and wanted to acknowledge the “mixed bag of views” on the issue.

A bulldozer is busy clearing the grounds of what were once homes in North Nashville on July 16, 1968 for the passage of Interstate 40.

Hurt said the overwhelming feeling she’s heard is that residents don’t know what the cap is and are concerned about the city’s history of “empty promises.”

“It’s likely that some of the newcomers to this community would be in favor of the cap with some of the background information that was presented,” Hurt said, but it’s “a little disrespectful” to those who have lived in the area. all. their lives and want to be more involved in conversations about changes in their neighborhood.

With this conversation, “I think this is a great opportunity for us to come together and do something great for the city of Nashville for all of its residents,” Hurt said.

Council gives green light to road safety funding for Nolensville Pike

The original capital spending plan called for $ 15 million to build an additional parking lot at the Nashville Zoo in Grassmere.

The project will help the zoo raise more than $ 15 million in private funding as well as expand the zoo.

O’Connell said Monday that the zoo must be seen in the context of its surroundings, including the Nolensville Pike corridor.

O’Connell and Board member Courtney Johnston proposed an amendment to allocate approximately $ 10.5 million to improve transit, including transit on the Nolensville Pike corridor. The amendment was adopted despite some opposition.

A portion of $ 6.2 million of the funding would be used to improve safety on Nolensville Pike in accordance with improvements identified by an audit by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The amendment allocates $ 7.2 million for safety, Vision Zero’s efforts to reduce fatalities, and traffic calming. Another $ 3.3 million is marked for neighborhood transit centers.

CFO Kelly Flannery said she was “comfortable” with adding about $ 10.5 million to the capital spending plan, but the figure “cannot be much more. important”.

Contact reporter Cassandra Stephenson at or (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @ CStephenson731.

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