Nashville, Tennessee/East Corridor Commuter Rail

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East Corridor Commuter Rail

Nashville, TN

(November 1999)

(click here for map)


The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) of Nashville, Tennessee are proposing the implementation of a 31.1-mile, 5 station commuter rail line between downtown Nashville and the City of Lebanon in Wilson County. The East Corridor commuter rail project is proposed to operate on an existing rail line owned by the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority (N&E), a governmental entity comprised of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Wilson County, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Rolling stock and maintenance facilities will be leased from the N&E.

The MTA and RTA estimate 1400 average weekday boardings on the proposed project in 2006, including 700 daily new riders. The project is estimated to cost $30.0 million in escalated dollars, with a proposed Section 5309 New Starts share of $20.9 million. Because the proposed New Starts share is less than $25 million, the project is exempt from the New Starts criteria, and is thus not subject to FTA’s evaluation and rating (TEA-21 Section 5309(e)(8)(A)).

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Commuter Rail

(31.1 miles, 5 stations)

Total Capital Cost YOE):

$30.0 million

Section 5309 New Starts Share (YOE):

$20.9 million

Annual Operating Cost(YOE):

$2.0 million

Ridership Forecast (2006):

1400 average weekday boardings

700 daily new riders


In 1996, the MTA and RTA initiated a study to explore the potential of commuter rail in the Nashville region. From this study, six corridors were considered for further evaluation. A 1998 study analyzed the capital costs for the three most promising corridors. As the result of these studies and efforts of the Nashville area Commuter Rail Task Force --- which includes the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, area business leaders, the MPO, MTA, RTA, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), CSX Railroad and the Nashville and Eastern Rail Authority, and the Nashville Congressional delegation --- the East Corridor was selected as the first corridor to be implemented in the Nashville Area Commuter Rail System.

The Nashville MPO included the East Corridor commuter rail project in its fiscally constrained long range transportation plan in September 1999. FTA approved the project to advance into preliminary engineering (during which time an environmental assessment will be undertaken) on November 30, 1999.


TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(50) authorizes the "Nashville Commuter Rail" project for final design and construction. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $1.97 million for the project.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $2001)


Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)


Appropriations to Date

  Section 5309 New Starts

FHWA Intermodal



($1.97 million appropriated through FY 2000)

Tennessee DOT`

Regional Funding

Local government funding








NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.


East Corridor Commuter Rail (map)