Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s proposed transit plan could cost nearly twice as much as the public had initially been told, WSMV-TV reports.
But following the television report, the mayor’s office was quick to dismiss that contention in a response provided to Equipment World.
The estimated cost could be nearly $9 billion, according to the station’s investigative team in a story that aired January 18.
The Barry administration has said the transit plan would cost about $5.4 billion, the station reports, also noting a public service announcement to gather public support for the project has used the same figure.
The much higher estimated cost, however, is “buried” on page 50 of the report, “Let’s Move Nashville: Metro’s Transportation Solution,” WSMV contends.
Detailed cost projections for the plan show that $5 billion only covers the light rail portion of the plan, the station reports. Bus enhancements add another $1 billion, and interest and financing is another $1 billion.
A mayor’s spokesman, however, claimed the TV news story was a “deceptive report by WSMV and failed to include our response to their questions.”
Nothing has changed in terms of costs, according to Sean Braisted, press secretary for the mayor’s office.
The transit improvement program represents a $5.4 billion infrastructure investment in the future of Nashville, he says, noting that the plan includes light rail, bus enhancements, neighborhood transit centers and more.
“Just like when you buy a house, if you add in long-term operating, interest, maintenance and other costs, the initial purchase price looks higher,” Braisted responded in an email to Equipment World.
“The mayor has proposed a comprehensive transportation solution with a dedicated source of revenue that will ensure future mayors and metro councils don’t have to use the general fund to supplement operations and maintenance over the long term.”
Barry had unveiled her proposals in December 2017.
As the city continues to grow, according to the mayor, it’s time to consider a tunnel for light rail service and rapid buses to relieve ever-increasing traffic congestion.
When announced, the proposals were detailed as part of Barry’s $5.2 billion “Let’s Move Nashville” plan that could go before voters May 1.
Megan Barry, elected in 2015, is the seventh mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.
The Transit Improvement Program report is dated December 13, 2017.
Read the transit plan here.