NASHVILLE, Tennessee–Voters in Nashville/Davidson County delivered a crushing defeat to the $9.2 billion transit plan proposed by disgraced former Mayor Megan Barry and supported by Acting Mayor David Briley, 64 percent to 36 percent on Tuesday.
A record turnout of 122,477 voters cast their ballots, with 100 percent of all precincts reporting. Sixty-four percent of voters, 78,710, voted against the plan, and only 36 percent, 43,767, voted for it.
A little more than 59,000 voters were cast during early voting, while about 63,000 were cast on Tuesday, election day.
The sentiment against the transit plan was virtually the same during each voting period. Sixty-five percent of early voters opposed the plan, while only 35 percent supported it. Among those who voted on election day, 63 percent opposed the plan, while 37 percent supported it.
The election day results were remarkably close to the results of a Tennessee Star Poll released on Monday April 16, which had 62 percent of voters opposing the plan with only 27 percent supporting it.
The Tennessee Star was the only media outlet in Tennessee that conducted a poll on the Nashville Transit Plan.
Transit for Nashville, the group that favored the plan, conceded the race at 8:20 pm, just one hour and 20 minutes after the polls closed at 7:00 pm, releasing this statement:
This is a disappointing night for the thousands of Nashvillians who stood up over the last five years and said they wanted a transit system that allows everyone to get around our city cheaply, safely and more reliably. Our coalition was formed by many groups throughout the city that saw this transit plan as key to our city’s future prosperity and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, there were many other Nashvillians who did not.
We certainly hope that everyone who voted against this plan because they wanted to see a better one will continue to make their voices heard moving forward.
The problems of our traffic and growing inequality will not go away. It will be up to all of us to once again come to the table and do the hard work of developing a plan that addresses them.
Acting Mayor David Briley, a big supporter of the plan, released the following statement:
We all can agree that we have to do something about traffic and transportation, but voters didn’t get behind this plan. My responsibility as Mayor is to get back to the drawing board and find the common ground to develop consensus on a new way forward. Our transportation problems are not going away; in fact, we know they’re only going to get more challenging as we continue to grow. I’ll get back to work tomorrow on finding a solution for Nashville that we all can agree on.
Opponents of the plan reacted enthusiastically to the referendum results.
“Tonight is a great victory for all of Nashville. A $9 billion transit boondoogle that benefited developers, construction companies, and engineering firms, and left the little guy out to dry has been defeated,” Nashville mayoral candidate Carol Swain said at the Victory Celebration for opponents of the transit plan hosted by her campaign.
“As mayor, I will work to implement immediate and long term solutions to regional traffic congestion,” she added.
“There is a short sprint to May 24, and I’m asking for your support in my bid for Mayor of Nashville. I pledge to create a government that works for you and not against you,” the former Vanderbilt professor concluded.
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor who opposed the plan, released this statement:
“Tonight, the voters of Nashville made the right choice,” said Diane Black. “We need to solve the traffic problem in Middle Tennessee, but billion dollar liberal boondoggles are not the solution. This transit plan would have made Nashville the highest-taxed city in the country and risked the economic growth of our entire state. Now it’s time to get to work on a real, strategic regional plan to reduce congestion in downtown Nashville without raising taxes on working families. I look forward to releasing my vision in the coming days.”
No Tax for Trax, the PAC that led opposition to the plan, also celebrated the voters’ decision on Monday.
“No Tax 4 Tracks said their campaign efforts in the months leading to the vote have paid off and strongly believe the results reflect what voters feel — that they aren’t on-board with the plan,” WKRN reported:
Moving forward, organizers from the group said their work doesn’t end here because they still believe something has to be done about traffic.
The group’s senior advisor, Jeff Carr, said the group is going to look at what works in the current plan, what can be added, to maximize benefit to commuters and minimize the cost to taxpayers — cost, being one of the group’s biggest criticisms of the referendum.
This was an exceptional moment in Nashville history,” said Carr. “Now the hard work begins. We pledge to stay active in this debate and we pledge to be part of constructive conversation that advances the city.”