EXPLAINER: How ‘Imagine East Bank’ vision impacts all Nashvillians

WSMV's Rebecca Cardenas reports.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Planning, along with the Nashville Department of Transportation, said transportation will play a big part in the Imagine East Nashville project and will affect not just residents in East Nashville but all Nashvillians.

NDOT officials said they plan to focus specifically on how the transportation section of the project will benefit all Nashville neighborhoods. The following points are the benefits NDOT said are crucial to coming up with transportation plans:

1. Making travel to and from North and East Nashville easier.

Besides the existing transportation grid on the East Bank, such as multimodal streets, bicycles, sidewalks, and greenways, NDOT said they want to find a way to make travel from East to North Nashville easier.

The East Bank Boulevard will connect to the existing street network, including intersections with Jefferson Street, James Robertson Parkway, Woodland Street, Shelby Street, and Korean Veterans Boulevard. By doing this, NDOT said it would significantly improve access to downtown Nashville, North Nashville, and East Nashville, as well as regional connectivity to I-24, I-65, and Ellington parkway.

Another essential part of the planned infrastructure is the connection over I-24 to Cleveland Street and Dickerson Road. This connection will include bike lanes and sidewalks, accommodate transit, and provide direct connectivity to East Nashville and the north via Dickerson Pike.

Connections with new East Bank plans
Connections with new East Bank plans(Mayor Cooper)

2. Additing a critical hub for Nashville’s mass transit network.

NDOT said along with other projects in the Metro Nashville Transportation Plan, bus rapid transit along the envisioned East Bank Boulevard would connect the neighborhoods of Madison, East Nashville, Whites Creek, Dickerson Pike, Antioch, South Nashville, West Nashville, The Nations, Bordeaux, and North Nashville with a connected, seamless and reliable transit system through the East Bank and Downtown areas.

The envisioned East Bank Mobility Hub would serve as a central connection point between services running through several counties, such as Montgomery, Robertson, and Sumner Counties.

3. Reducing the need for local, interstate travel by adding a core north/south transit spine.

An essential part of the transportation plan is making wide, landscaped sidewalks along the north/south spine road. NDOT said this would be the East Bank Boulevard that will have a comprehensive network of streets planned to enhance multimodal connectivity from a local and regional perspective significantly.

4. Creating a seamless experience for cyclists, walkers, and runners across the city.

NDOT said they plan to prioritize other modes of transportation besides cars and to put safety at the forefront of the design of the East bank. This includes wide sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians tied to the development opportunities.

Throughout the East Bank, an extensive network of high-quality, low-stress bike facilities and well-designed, comfortable sidewalks will significantly enhance safety, comfort, and accessibility for non-motorized travel.

The bike streets will be included on the north and south streets parallel to the Boulevard and east and west intersecting streets. These bike facilities will create a safer environment for cyclists, according to NDOT.

The East Bank Greenway will also connect to the Seigenthaler Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge and the Jefferson Street, Woodland, and Korean Veterans Boulevard bridges, enhancing access between the East Bank and downtown. In addition to significantly improving local access, these various greenway connections will result in crucial regional access for cyclists, runners, and walkers.

5. Improving regional connectivity and creating new opportunities for neighborhoods.

NDOT said the proposed East Bank transportation plan would give Nashville and Middle Tennessee residents access to opportunities and events downtown and throughout the core of Nashville.

The potential for future regional connections to Lebanon Pike, Murfreesboro Road, the airport, and southeast Nashville can be realized with the bridge south over the Cumberland River. This would stitch together communities divided by water and interstate and provide continuity for commuters on the south end of the multimodal corridor.

The East Bank Mobility Hub will also serve as a focal point similar to how “The Titans Express” operates today on the WeGo Star, providing travel times from Wilson County, Hermitage, and Donelson Stations to Titans games.