Price Tag for Transportation Referendum Pushed by Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell Swells to $6.93 Billion

Freddy O'Connell

An independent accounting of the costs associated with the transportation referendum put forward by Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell on Thursday claims the true cost of the mayor’s goals will swell to $6.93 billion over the 15-year life of the project.

O’Connell originally announced the cost of building the transportation improvements in his referendum would amount to about $3.1 billion, with additional annual operating costs of about $111 million.

However, an independent audit by KraftCPAs determined, “Total revenue needed during construction will be $6.934 billion in future dollars.”

The auditors identified $3.26 billion that will be raised from the half-cent sales tax increase O’Connell proposed, an additional $2 billion raised from “bond proceeds from multiple revenue bonds issued from 2026 to 2039,” and $1.52 billion in federal and state funds.

According to the accountants, the remaining necessary funding will be raised from increased bus revenues made possible through through the transportation improvements.

They add that the previous cost estimate of $3.096 billion represents “the cost it would take to incur all 15 years’ worth of expenses” associated with O’Connell’s referendum at once.

While the real price of O’Connell’s referendum is more than twice the $3.1 billion proposed, the accountants nonetheless considered the mayor’s plans feasible.

They explained, “the proposed transit programs is financially feasible,” with “bonds, sales tax surcharges” and “other financing methods” providing “a reasonable basis” for O’Connell’s plan to come to fruition.

The audit and new cost estimate for O’Connell’s plan comes after Nashville’s Beacon Center Director of Policy and Research Ron Shultis called portions of the transportation referendum “downright inexcusably awful” in a recent analysis, ultimately concluding, “we have questions about how the most intensive bus infrastructure features of the plan will be implemented and severe concerns about Metro getting away from the basics of good government.”

Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham, who previously called the referendum a “greendoggle,” recently escalated his attacks by declaring it an “absolute ripoff of the taxpayer.”

“It is a complete and total insult and we see this so many times from Democratic policies. The very people that they supposedly are helping are the people that they hurt and that is the real crime here. The fact that the taxpayers are going to waste billions of dollars on this ought to be a factor, too,” said Cunningham.

– – –

Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Pennsylvania Daily Star and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Freddie O’Connell” by Freddie O’Connell, Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County.


Related posts

7 Thoughts to “Price Tag for Transportation Referendum Pushed by Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell Swells to $6.93 Billion”

  1. Teddy

    This is a disaster. More than double what was originally projected. Does not seem to provide for a cross town transportation option. With more and more limited parking, who is going to want to go to the east bank or TPAC?

  2. Cannoneertwo

    Too bad the Duma isn’t still in session, they could tailor a nice specific bill to tell Nashville exactly what to do.

  3. Randall Davidson

    some bus driver just got threatened with a gun by somebody just yesterday. I’m not getting on a bus. Somebody please tell fast Freddie…..not gonna happen.

  4. Kraft CPA is wrong in their assumption that they made. They assume that they’ll be increased revenues from ridership and that is not true. In all the cities that this type of plan has been tried. Ridership does not increase so the New revenues they projected will not materialize. Based on the history the government ever puts together on estimates, the true cost always comes in at two to three times what they projected it at . This means this plan will cost them upwards of $10 billion when finished and will be nothing but a money pit. Government needs to stop pandering to those on the very bottom and to those on the very top and start thinking about those of us in the middle.

    1. DH

      Ognash – I’ve studied Mass Transit a lot and agree with you.
      The TRUE purpose is to make Mass Transit an ESSENTIAL Service.
      If you ask them > How much money will it lose?” their answer is “It doesn’t matter – it’s an Essential Service like the police.”
      – Anyone earning less than $48,000 will ride free. That includes all the Homeless. When the Homeless ride, paid ridership drops. SO, revenues will actually DECREASE. There is NO way revenues will increase.
      – As an example, in 2022, the Denver Transit System lost $971 Million – almost a Billion $.
      – People thinks someone else will ride it BUT they won’t ride it. If someone says they support it, ask them > :Will you ride it?” 90% of the time the answer is No, or > “I might ride it to a Titans game.”

  5. David Longfellow

    Imagine that! A progressive transportation plan that doubled in price in a few weeks. Shades of the California high speed rail debacle.


    MORE good money after bad in the name of being progressive. There is no way possible that people will use enough bus services to have any real impact on traffic. It has NEVER happened in the country, and to think that Nashville will be a first is just dumb. But spend OUR money to make yourself look better, is the way of politics in Nashville.