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"Transportation System’s Future Needs to be Developed Today"

May 26, 2010, Tennessee Voices
By Charles W. Bone

If there is a lesson to be learned from the devastating floods, it’s that our region is at its best when we pull together as a community. And just as we have pulled together as a community to address the natural disaster, we must do the same if we’re going to solve our region’s transportation issues.

In the coming weeks, there will be a number of public hearings for community input on the Nashville Area MPO 2035 Regional Transportation Plan that will be unveiled at the upcoming “Convening the Region Summit.” The plan will help us establish regional goals, policies and objectives for our multi-modal transportation system over the next 25 years. It will help us support the economic growth and prosperity goals of communities while tackling future congestion, safety and security travel concerns and working to reduce urban sprawl.

All of us involved with Cumberland Region Tomorrow will be asking you to take part in developing a regional vision for the future of our transportation system.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the “National Interstate and Defense Highways Act” that served as the catalyst for what we all know now as our national interstate system.

As monumental as that legislation was for setting the course for the designation and funding of our nation’s transportation infrastructure, it didn’t all come together that year — or even in that decade. It took years of input, cooperation and planning to put in place our current interstate system.

The 2035 Regional Transportation Plan is the 21st century equivalent of the interstate system for us. It will be vital to the economic vitality and livability of this region we call home.

A number of policy issues will need to be decided: How do we address the long-term transportation needs of our 10-county Middle Tennessee region? How do we provide better transportation alternatives for our citizens to reduce traffic congestion, smog and pollution while still remaining economically competitive? How do we work with the federal, state and local governments to make sure our public-private partnership in addressing Middle Tennessee’s transportation needs is successful?

After last year’s summit, the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus was formed to provide leadership on the important issues facing our growing region. The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee also has been formed, calling for a “bold vision” including more mass transit and walkable communities. The Alliance is headed by Ed Cole, a longtime leader in transportation solutions, and I serve as the chairman.

Concerned citizens, the business community, our elected leaders and others in our 10-county community must all pull together if we’re going to find a regional solution to our transportation issues. One county or one community can’t do it alone. It’s going to take us all.

Please make your voice heard.

Charles W. Bone is the chairman of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and a founding member of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, the nonprofit organization that brings people together to address regional challenges and opportunities we face with the future growth and development of Middle Tennessee.

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