Video shows illegal and dangerous parking downtown

But the video shows not just a single car, but row after row of vehicles, all squeezed in together on long stretches of the road.
Updated: Feb. 20, 2023 at 6:00 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - It’s just before 5 a.m. on Rosa Parks Boulevard and what some describe as a necessary risk is about to begin.

A photographer with WSMV4 Investigates was rolling his dash camera and captured it happening.

Parking on the shoulder of the state road is not only illegal, but also highly dangerous given that it curves through downtown.

But the video shows not just a single car, but row after row of vehicles, all squeezed in together on long stretches of the road.

Freddie O’Connell, the Metro councilman who represents that stretch of downtown, says while our photographer was driving the speed limit, many people don’t.

“It’s not like people are slowing down, if anything. You’ve got that sweep going up and they’re going fast there a lot of times,” O’Connell said.

The video shows there’s no space between the parked cars and oncoming traffic.

If a driver had an emergency and needed to get off the road, or worse, wasn’t paying attention, all of the vehicles are blocking the shoulder.

“You’re always worried about the worst-case scenario,” said WSMV4 Investigates.

“Yes,” O’Connell said.

“Somebody gets out of that vehicle and gets hit,” said WSMV4 Investigates.

“And that’s the biggest thing for me,” O’Connell said. So who would take that risk? And why at that specific location?

If you slow down the video, you’ll notice something: one of the people walking from a vehicle is wearing a hard hat.

“Guess what’s not available in the urban core? Just random construction parking,” O’Connell said.

Joel Brauchi, business manager with IBEW which represents Nashville construction workers, said if there’s no shuttle to bring workers in and they can’t afford to pay daily street or garage parking rates, the only option is to take the risk.

“Construction workers - a lot of time - are coming in early in the morning before the sun is up. So it’s dark - and that adds another element to the issue,” Brauchi said.

Emails obtained by WSMV4 Investigates show not only after we recorded the illegal parking, the Nashville Department of Transportation started getting complaints about construction parking along the bridge wall of Rosa Parks Boulevard.

NDOT put up temporary signs, warning drivers not to park on the shoulder.

But in an email to WSMV4 Investigates, a NDOT spokeswoman wrote that those signs, “seem to have been removed.”

The NDOT spokeswoman also emailed to WSMV4 Investigates, “NDOT inspectors, suspecting that workers related to the nearby construction sites were illegally parking, spoke with the contractors (AE Com Hunt and Bell Construction) and informed them of the illegal parking issues.”

A spokesman for Metro Codes confirmed that construction companies do not have to provide a parking plan for its workers before receiving a permit.

“There’s no real accountability for employers to provide safe parking for their employees, and that creates a whole other issue, especially from a safety standpoint,” Brauchi said.

WSMV4 Investigates both called and emailed the construction companies mentioned in NDOT’s email for being warned about illegal parking by their employees, but neither responded by our deadline.

WSMV4 Investigates spoke with two downtown construction workers, who agreed to speak frankly about the illegal parking, but asked to conceal their identity for fear of losing their jobs.

“Why would they do it? Why would they park illegally?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“They probably just couldn’t afford it to be honest,” said one construction worker.

“It’s kind of necessity I would guess?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“You have to be close. Either that or you’re walking miles to work,” said the construction worker.

That construction worker said he could not afford to pay for parking downtown every day.

“It’s kind of dangerous too, right?” asked WSMV4 Investigates to the other construction worker. “Oh yeah,” said the other worker. “I wouldn’t do it.”

Since capturing the video and the temporary signs being removed, NDOT had placed permanent no parking signs along the shoulder.

A NDOT spokeswoman said they have written about 75 tickets and have towed vehicles as well.

Brauchi said the video we obtained shows just what workers are risking to build the new Nashville.

If you have something you’d like WSMV4 Investigates to know about, you can contact us here.