Nashville Investigates Need For Its Own Department of Transportation

Aug 8, 2016

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry assigned one of her top advisors on Monday to explore the possibility of creating a Department of Transportation for the city.

In the past year, two studies by urban planners — NashvilleNext by Metro Planning and the Gear Up 2020 report by the Urban Land Institute — recommended that transportation be split apart from Metro Public Works.

Mark Sturtevant will take over as Public Works interim director to assess whether the agency needs to be reorganized.

“We must commit to an honest evaluation of Metro departments for their ability to implement the types of solutions that will preserve and enhance Nashville’s livability,” the mayor wrote in an email statement. “Public demand for city services is changing and increasing … The Public Works Department’s responsiveness to this rising demand is integral to my administration’s agenda.”

Sturtevant has been working as the mayor’s director of infrastructure. In the past, he worked for the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and on projects like the Music City Convention Center, Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium.

Mark Macy, who has overseen public works for nearly a year, will return to his work as chief engineer.

Change Recommended

Last month, Gear Up 2020 recommended creating a “standalone” transportation department. Without one, wrote researcher Gabe Klein, the city “contributes to stagnation in terms of innovation, commitment to complete streets, active transportation, and ultimately accountability to move Nashville forward.”

Klein argues that transportation is no longer only about moving traffic safely, but about creating equitable communities while stimulating health and economic development.

“It has also become clear that Nashville is not competing effectively for … the plethora of federal grants and leaving potential resources on the table,” Klein said.

As part of his report, Klein recommended that the Department of Transportation create two-year action plans.