Connect Downtown Project Team releases recommendations for multimodal improvements in Nashville

April 18, 2024
Connect Downtown is a 10-year multi-phase action plan with projects, programs and policy recommendations to make multimodal travel easier and safer in downtown Nashville.

The Connect Downtown Project Team has released the Connect Downtown Action Plan final recommendations for comprehensive multimodal improvements in downtown Nashville, Tenn. The planning project is a partnership between the Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT), WeGo Public Transit, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Nashville Downtown Partnership.  

Connect Downtown is a 10-year action plan with projects, programs and policy recommendations that will be delivered in three phases and are organized into five high-level “big moves” that are guided by the project’s six goals to make multimodal travel easier and safer in downtown Nashville. The final recommendations include near-term quick wins, as well as longer-term projects to improve mobility in the downtown core. 

Connect Downtown strives to ensure downtown Nashville is: 

  • Safe and comfortable: Create transportation networks that enhance the quality of life for all Nashvillians, especially the city’s most vulnerable travelers 
  • Connected and convenient: Develop an integrated mobility system that seamlessly and efficiently connects downtown Nashville with easy-to-use and reliable travel options 
  • Equitable and accessible: Ensure equal access to mobility options that meet the needs of everyone traveling to, through and around downtown Nashville 
  • Sustainable and resilient: Address the climate crisis to create a more resilient downtown Nashville and Middle Tennessee region 
  • Vibrant and inviting: Maintain a prosperous downtown by providing a transportation system that makes it easier to do business and encourages people to spend time in Nashville 
  • Balanced and reliable: Expand and enhance mobility choices to manage traffic congestion and create a more predictable transportation system in downtown Nashville 

“As we aim to improve mobility everywhere in Nashville, downtown plays a critical role and this effort will ensure more efficient movement for everyone, mirroring the goals outlined in our Choose How You Move program,” said Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell. “I’m encouraged to see an emphasis on smart traffic signals, mobility lanes for people biking and scooting and dedicated transit lanes to make the bus more reliable for WeGo riders. This plan, once implemented, will make downtown work better for everyone, including business owners, delivery drivers, neighborhood residents and those visiting our city.”  

The five “big moves” include: 

  1. Manage congestion: Upgrade signals, improve traffic operations and better manage events to keep people moving and improve system resiliency 
  2. Improve safety: Advance Vision Zero projects and programs to make downtown’s streets safer for people, especially downtown’s most vulnerable travelers 
  3. Move more people: Prioritize buses on key corridors and increase the amount of service to provide faster and more reliable trips throughout the region 
  4. Create complete networks: Develop safe, separated and connected walking, rolling, biking and scooting facilities to help people of all ages and abilities get into and around downtown 
  5. Maximize the curb: Flex the uses of the curb throughout the day for deliveries, service vehicles and passenger pick-up and drop-off to support local businesses and residents. 

“As the region continues to grow, so does congestion and the need for greater mobility options,” said Tennessee Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “TDOT’s Choice Lanes Program, which allows for more transit opportunities, is the perfect example of how we can move the needle and connect to or expand on the larger system as an integrated approach to improved mobility, which aligns well with the goals and big moves in the Connect Downtown Plan.” 

The first phase of implementation will focus on quick wins, which includes technology-focused projects, curb management activities and quick-build projects. NDOT and WeGo Transit will be actively and continuously evaluating implementation activities and will make adjustments as needed, while also beginning engineering studies and preliminary design for more complex projects.   

“The transit enhancements in the Connect Downtown Plan will not only improve the flow of buses into and through downtown Nashville, but will also improve the overall reliability of transit connections between neighborhoods outside the downtown core,” said WeGo Transit CEO Steve Bland. 

“We are excited that the first phase of the plan brings a comprehensive investment in technology to mitigate congestion and improve mobility,” said Nashville Downtown Partnership President and CEO Tom Turner. “This singular solution will positively impact all who live, work, play or invest in and around downtown Nashville.”