By the year 2040, Williamson County will be the size of Nashville having doubled in size to more than 400,000 people, and the Middle Tennessee region will welcome 1 million residents, many of whom will decide to relocate to Williamson County. It’s past time to invest in mass transit solutions, and it will take all sources of revenue - state fuel revenue, local funding, rider fares and private investment -- to make this happen. But first, we need leaders who will face the challenge head on. For too long politicians have been content to kick that can down the road. This is our region's greatest challenge, and we have to rise before it, step up and take bold action before it’s too late.
Williamson County’s economy is booming. While it’s fantastic to see our local businesses finding success and growing at such rapid rates, it’s done nothing to slow down traffic concerns. Between new jobs, new residential areas, and under-funded construction, traffic has become substantially worse in Williamson County. We’ve reached a point in our county’s growth where the number of people commuting from Williamson to Davidson county is equivalent to the number commuting from Davidson to Williamson. There’s no such thing as “going against traffic” anymore.
Williamson County Mobility Week was held in September, where the Williamson Chamber rallied businesses, schools, government agencies, and local residents to work toward solutions that get more cars off the roads. The week focused on things such as increasing carpooling, ridesharing and bus ridership and implementing flexible workplace policies such as working from home, vanpooling and inviting food trucks to provide lunch during the peak noon-time hours. Also during this week, we learned that Williamson County Schools is looking at changing school start times. The TMA Group is funding 20 more vans for their vanpool program to be utilized by Williamson County residents and businesses. There was also a community forum focused on how affordable housing (and the lack thereof) affects our traffic situation. And all of our local municipalities are working together to complete infrastructure projects (for starters, research the City of Franklin’s Envision Franklin Plan). Here’s also what I learned during Mobility Week:
It takes a long time to build a road -- about 10-20 years
11 projects are currently underway or planned in Franklin, totaling about $30 million
82% of Williamson County residents drive alone to work; only 9% work from home or carpool
1 school bus takes 36 cars off the roads
1 vanpool takes at least 7-10 cars off the roads
There are approximately 6,000 businesses in the county; if all businesses allowed at least 1 employee to work from home once a week, that’s 6,000 cars off the roads in a week
I applaud Williamson, Inc. and our local governments for challenging everyday citizens to play a role in fixing traffic congestion. If we are going to solve our traffic woes, it’s going to take a multi-faceted approach.
While our local leaders have done a fantastic job creating plans to handle this increased traffic on our roadways, the state has failed to adequately fund these projects to completion causing increases to property taxes and construction on our roads taking longer than projected to complete.
I plan to work in the state capitol to get our local government leaders the state funding they need to complete projects while also coming up with innovative transit solutions for Davidson-Williamson commuters.
Make your voice heard by heading to the polls on November 8 to vote for a representative that will take swift action to support common-sense transportation funding solutions.