Metro rethinking Eighth Avenue study after pushback, project - WSMV News 4

Nashville rethinking Eighth Avenue study after pushback, water project

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Signs along Eighth Avenue South protesting proposed changes. (WSMV file photo) Signs along Eighth Avenue South protesting proposed changes. (WSMV file photo)

Pushback on a study to cut down lanes on a major Nashville corridor is forcing city leaders back to the drawing board.

Metro Planning began a multi-modal traffic study in 2016, looking at whether to reduce Eighth Avenue South from four lanes to two lanes with bike lanes and sidewalks. Business owners had signs up saying “Don’t shut down 8th Avenue” because of the traffic outside their front doors.

“There’s days in the afternoons where it’s backed up at our store,” said Cliff Gilchrist, co-owner of Nashville Billiard and Patio.

Gilchrist does not support Metro’s Eighth Avenue study and told News4 he hoped it wouldn’t move forward.

“We’ve been here for 30 years in this store and have seen you know on obviously the city grow and how much traffic flows in and out of town every day,” said Gilchrist.

A grassroots group called Citizens Against 8th Avenue Gridlock formed to build support against the study, with founder Gabriel Smith sending 7,000 signatures to former Mayor Megan Barry last year.

“We got no response from her at all. And so we now want to hear from Mayor (David) Briley, why are you keeping this plan on the books to bring gridlock to 8th Avenue?” said Smith.

News4 uncovered the city is rethinking its plan and took those concerns to Mayor David Briley’s office.

Spokesperson Judith Byrd said:

“Stakeholders and the Metro Division of Transportation, in conjunction with TDOT, are back to the drawing board working on a handful of alternative design options for Eighth Avenue. Proposed designs are unlikely to include the repurposing of a vehicle travel lane on Eighth Avenue, which was unpopular with businesses and residents in the area. The process has been slowed by the water and sewer work that is about a year away from completion on Eighth Avenue. Community engagement will be a large part of any alternatives proposed in future project phases.”

Business owners said they will keep speaking up in the future.

“We’re not going away. We’re not going to ignore this issue. We want the city to know that we will continue to fight this, and we will remain opposed to it for as long as they keep it on the table,” said Smith.

A major mile-long water main replacement is set for Eighth Avenue South from Craighead Street to Edgehill Avenue. District 17 Councilman Colby Sledge said the city also plans to improve traffic signal timing, install more signals and put in more crosswalks to help with congestion and pedestrian safety concerns.

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