Updated: Nov 4, 2019
I remember like it was yesterday— riding in the backseat of our family minivan, on the way to Nashville for a Saturday of running errands that couldn’t be conducted at home, or for a week-day doctor’s appointment or visit with our friends in Franklin.
Some trips would entail a straight shot up Highway 31 from Columbia to Nashville, and for others we would opt for the interstate, connecting via Saturn Parkway, on to I-65 driving thru Williamson County admiring the pasture we now call Cool Springs, and in awe of the Nashville skyline that was in its infant stages—we just didn’t know it at the time.
That was 30 years ago, and a lot has changed since those seemingly simpler times. For one, I am now the one driving the family minivan with young, curious eyes in the backseat. And, gone are the days of guaranteed 25-minute commutes to downtown Franklin, and 45-minute commutes to downtown Nashville.
Times have changed. But the time is now to rise to the occasion and solve what may be one of the biggest regional issues of our time—transportation.
Studies show that several thousand Columbia and Maury County residents commute to Nashville on a daily basis for employment, and thousands more for other reasons such as education, health care, retail, dining and the like. Simply put, we recognize in Columbia, as placeholders on the south end of the I-65 corridor, we are contributing to gridlock on Interstate 65 and Highway 31; however, we also recognize that we can, and must be part of the solution.
That’s where the South Corridor Study comes in to play. The South Corridor study was initiated by the Greater Nashville Regional Council, in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, entities who are at the forefront of transportation planning efforts in Nashville and surrounding communities such as Columbia.
The south corridor of the Nashville metro area experiences some of the heaviest traffic volumes in Tennessee and continues to be one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. This study will help identify investments and smart solutions that can assist with traffic congestion and improve connectivity between people and businesses.
After all, let’s face it: while the traffic problems we face are signs of a growing region and thriving economy, if not addressed properly, the problems could lead to a downward trend of our current positive trajectory. And, I dare say there is no single bigger waste of human existence than being stuck behind the wheel of a vehicle, in gridlock traffic, when that time could better be spent with family and connecting with our friends.
There are plenty of opportunities to participate in the Study. Let your voice be heard so that the result will be inclusive of everyone’s concerns and proposed solutions. I will likely have different needs and wants from my generational perspective from those who are both younger and older, or from someone who lives in Thompson’s Station and Green Hills—and that is a good thing. We should all speak up and speak out so that we can all contribute to this study, and to the solutions.
Take part in the survey by visiting www.southcorridorstudy.org. contact your city and county mayors and attend the public forums. You will be glad you did. More importantly, you will have a say in the solution of the south corridor transit issues of the day, which will ensure the continued success of our region, and to the well-being of us all.
Chaz Molder, 35, is the mayor of Columbia and is one of the youngest Mayors in Tennessee. Molder serves on the Greater Nashville Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board, which lead regional transportation planning efforts.