Nashville, Tennessee/East Corridor Commuter Rail
East Corridor Commuter Rail
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 1,400 average weekday boardings on the proposed project in 2006, including 700 daily new riders. The project is estimated to cost $33.2 million in escalated dollars, with a proposed Section 5309 New Starts share of $22.9 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)).
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. The FTA approved the project to advance into preliminary engineering in November 1999. The RTA completed an Environmental Assessment and received a FONSI for the project in May 2000.
TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(50) authorizes the “Nashville Commuter Rail” project for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $7.9 million for the project.