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The Nashville Transit Plan – A Lesson in Out-of-Control Costs and Lack of Transparency

Mar 26, 2018 by AFP

Nashville has its fair share of traffic problems. What major city doesn’t?

But major cities with traffic problems don’t all have an irresponsible plan for “fixing” the problem at ever-increasing taxpayer expense like Nashville does.

Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry proposed a transit plan that will be open to a vote by the taxpayers on May 1st this year. Her plan includes billions of dollars spent on light rail (think bus on tracks), funded by increased sales tax in the Nashville area.

There are a lot of problems with this plan that America’s for Prosperity is calling out, but one problem looms above them all: transparency.

  • The project is estimated to cost $9 billion.

That’s an incredibly large amount of money. It’s almost double the initial projected cost of the project. Costs keep ballooning out of control, and there is little evidence the project will help ease Nashville traffic.

  • Lawmakers aren’t being upfront about the true cost. 

Not only have project costs nearly doubled since the plan was proposed, but lawmakers weren’t being straightforward about those costs. Citizens in the Nashville area who knew about the inflated project cost had to battle just to get the new estimates included in the ballot initiative language as many lawmakers were happy to use the original, lower estimate.

Lawmakers should be transparent when planning major construction projects on the taxpayers’ dime. In this case, the taxpayers’ 90,000,000,000 dimes.

We’ll get into the specifics of why this plan is inefficient, counterintuitive and frankly unnecessary as we get closer to voting on the initiative.

For now, remember that $9 billion is a whole lot more than $5.4 billion, especially when those funds are being gathered from increased sales taxes. The cost of the tunnel alone is likely to be far more than the $936 million initially projected. Take a look at these two transit projects and the cost over-runs we can expect to see:

  • Boston “Big Dig” –  ballooning from $2.6 billion to nearly $15 billion ($24 billion, counting interest on the debt)
  • Hawaii Train – Some experts say this project could cost more than $13 billion, which would be cost Oahu residents $13,700 each

Don’t you want to stop this train before it gets even more out of control