After 19 years of a using street plan that focused almost exclusively on vehicles, Metro Planning Department staffers have unveiled an updated document that places as much emphasis on street design as it does function.
Called Implementing Complete Streets: Major and Collector Street Plan of Metropolitan Nashville (MCSP), the multi-page document  is a comprehensive guide and implementation tool for guiding public and private investment in major streets that comprise the backbone of Nashville’s transportation system.
The Metro Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing regarding the document on Feb. 24 and will consider adopting it on that date.
Michael Briggs, transportation planner with the department, said updating and replacing the 1992 plan required about 18 months. The updated plan considers many aspects of the Complete Streets program Mayor Karl Dean had the Metro Public Works Department institute in October 2010.
“We’re still referring to the street’s function but giving it some design characteristics so that the street is beginning to have its own look — and not look like every other street in the county,” Briggs said.
MCSP focuses on arterial-boulevards, arterial-parkways and collector-avenues. It is part of, and implements, Mobility 2030, which is a component of the department’s General Plan.
For the Major and Collector Street Plan, Briggs said planning department staffers took some ideas from Charlotte.
“For example, instead of simply describing the street and how it moves traffic, we’re tying in the land-use piece,” he said. “We’re looking at context and thinking about different travel modes.”
The MCSP implements the guiding principles of Mobility 2030 by mapping the vision for Nashville’s major and collector streets and ensuring that the vision is fully integrated with the city’s land-use, mass transit and bicycle and pedestrian planning efforts. The MCSP aims to increase the quantity of streets (new streets and selective widening of existing ones) and improve the quality of street design.
“This process doesn’t mean every street will have a travel lane, a bike lane, a planning strip and a sidewalk,” Briggs stressed. “But you have to think about future users.”
Briggs said the plan has garnered support from the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Metro Transit Authority and the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee.
To date, department staffers have conducted two work sessions with planning commission members.
Hunter Gee, vice chairman of the planning commission, said he is pleased with the plan’s “multi-modal approach.”
Gee said he has not gauged the views of his fellow commissioners and declined to say how he intends to vote regarding the plan.
Ed Cole, executive director of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, said the most important part of the plan is that it “approaches each collector street as a complete street.”
“This is not only to serve cars, but serving people — and, in the future, mass transit.
Mary Beth Ikard, MPO spokeswoman, said as the city has grown, collector streets (those secondary streets that feed major corridors) have gotten more congested, thus driving the need for the updated plan.
"What [the planning department] is doing as far as the Complete Streets approach to this update will sync well with the Complete Streets policies as adopted by the MPO’s 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan," Ikard said.
Briggs said the Major and Collector Street Plan was completed, in part, to prepare for the city’s future growth.
Since 1996, Nashville has added 100,000 people, 40,000 housing units and 55,000 jobs, according to planning department statistics.
By 2030 and according to U.S. Census Bureau projections, Nashville’s population is projected to grow 20 percent (adding about up to 126,000 people) to a countywide population approaching 752,000 people. In addition, the city should see a 48 percent job growth, leading to more than 800,000 jobs, according to the MPO’s 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan.