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Green Hills/Belle Meade Projects

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I thought I saw the new University MTA connector turning from RJR onto HR. Although I forgot which way. But yeah, I agree that the bus system could be rethought.

Also lining up the streets would help. Walgreens and CVS could relocate to one of the new buildings proposed! It might take out some Trader Joe's parking though.

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I counter-strongly-disagree with the perception that pedestrian overpasses give the illusion that pedestrians are second class. If anything, I'd be pumped that I didn't have to cross in front of GH cars. Because with more affluence comes less attention paid to driving, I have found. (/sarc) But honestly. I'd rather take an overpass than walk across Hillsboro Road again.

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I disagree that we'll never see any form of mass transit through Green Hills.

I think if anything that should be one of the highest priorities in the long-term plans. Have a good park and ride at Harding/Hillsboro and have a N/S line that starts in GH and intersects with the E/W BRT Line and continues to North Nashville. It combines a number of attractions and workplaces, and could help pull some congestion off of Hillsboro. Gets a little tight through Hillsboro Village, however.

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Another article sugest that Southern land is moving form Franklin to Green Hills as part of this project. Just the way I read it.

http://gcanews.com/headlines.html#2

That's cool. Looks like this area of GH could see some significant changes soon. If and once the Southern land Co. project gets built. It will be interesting to see how this spurs what comes next in the area.

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I disagree that we'll never see any form of mass transit through Green Hills.

I think if anything that should be one of the highest priorities in the long-term plans. Have a good park and ride at Harding/Hillsboro and have a N/S line that starts in GH and intersects with the E/W BRT Line and continues to North Nashville. It combines a number of attractions and workplaces, and could help pull some congestion off of Hillsboro. Gets a little tight through Hillsboro Village, however.

Hard to see any type of rapid transit working through Hillsboro Village except a subway (which everybody says is too expensive to build in these days of reduced infrastructure spending) or something elevated. Personally I love elevated trains (rode them every day for 5 years in Chicago) but they may be out of style. I wonder if it would be practical to build concrete flyovers for BRT lines in some places?

I love this project, hopefully it's the first step in a 4-12 story, wide-sidewalk mixed use future for Green Hills. The article says the units will start at 500 sq ft and $1500/month ($3.00/sq ft!). If this is successful, it ought to get the attention of apt. developers nationwide. I imagine the sale of 11 No. already has.

Edited by Neigeville
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The one take away I got is that there is no need for any zoning changes and this can proceed with no changes. Southern Land has the money, so I gather they can start anytime they want. Looks as if we will start having another mini skyline there and it's not that far from the core. As mentioned in other post, traffic is a huge concern and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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****warning*****Brainstorming alert******may not be realistic***** :thumbsup:

This discussion about transit options in Green Hills and the limitations involved with it got me to thinking back a little bit to an idea I had a while ago. This would be applicable for the Green Hills transit situations as well as all of Nashville.

A few years ago on Skyscraperpage I started a thread in which I presented the option of a network of gondolas/trams to provide an integrated transit network in second and third tier cities. At that point I was living in Toledo which has poor public transit and I was brainstorming ways to improve on that while understanding the cost limitations most cities have with rolling out a light rail or heavy rail system. http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=153094

Some people on there downplayed it, but then others thought it was interesting. Could this work in Green Hills since traditional buses aren't really much better in terms of speed of transit than autos and rail seems to be a dream?

Here's my premise:

-In 2nd and 3rd tier cities there is a need for mass transit but limited funds and limited ridership are major hurdles.

-A network of lines is greater than the sum of its parts, so ideally multiple lines of transit would be integrated in a relatively short timeframe.

-Fixed route, regular interval departure with multiple origination and destination possibilities are key to people using a system

-There is not a realistic possibility of cities like Nashville getting a truly integrated rail network (or even BRT) within 20 years when starting from scratch.

-Gondolas/Trams can be built in a relatively short period of time and much more inexpensively than rail or BRT.

These systems are in use in several places, most notably ski resorts, and provide a very efficient method of travel. Capacities are comparable to light rail (in the thousands per hour) and is fully scalable depending on needs, and pickup intervals can be as frequent as every few seconds or as infrequent as once per hour. They can utilize existing right of way over roads, so land acquisition costs are minimal. They can travel up to 20-25 mph with current technology which puts Green Hills to Downtown transit time in the 10-15 minute range. In terms of cost they are much cheaper than Light rail or BRT.....on the order of $10-15 million per mile compared to $50-100 million/mile for rail.

In an ideal world, Nashville would have a network of 10 subway lines with a hundred stations. Of course, that's never going to happen. In a slightly less ideal world Nashville would have 10 HRT or LRT lines with a hundred stations. That too won't happen. A network of BRT lines around the city could happen, but with funding the way it currently is, I don't see that being fully completed for 20-30 years. Maybe we need to dramatically rethink transit options because with the current set of options cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Austin, and Louisville are going to forever be left out.

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OMG I've never even heard of this gondola idea. Apparently http://www.huffingto...t_n_944786.html Rio is already doing it. It's hard for me to see why anyone would resist this, on the other hand I don't get why we (as a society and a species) do a lot of what we do.

I wonder if it would be wise since it's a form of transit people associate with vacation places, if we framed it initially as a way for visitors to get about the city. Even if it just ran from Opryland (crossing the cumberland at probably far less cost than any train or busway) to the Riverfront to Music Row (with stops along the way in East Nasty and DT) it would soon be used more by (non-acraphobic) commuters than by tourists, and demand for other lines would follow. I wonder if Opryland would chip in a couple of bucks.

I really think this is a great idea. Brazil was the first place to implement BRT as well. They must be smart down there.

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Portland has operated a point to point aerial tram as part of its public transportation network since 2006. It was built largely due to emergency vehicle access and parking issues for OHSU, a big hospital up in the hills. OHSU funded the majority of the project and as a result its employees, patients, and visitors can ride for free. Monthly public transit passes are also honored. Otherwise it is 4 bucks for a ride. Soon after the tram opened a permanent bike valet service opened at the base of the tram because there were too many dang people riding bikes to work and not enough places to park. Nice problem to have.

Because it is a point to point system, the tram's usefulness is limited to people making trips between the OHSU campuses at the top and bottom of the hill. Nevertheless, it always seemed to be pretty busy. It was a must-visit attraction for my guests from out of town (but I also made them ride the sweet buses, streetcars, and light rail because I am a transit nerd).

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The tram/gondola idea is really cool! I haven't heard about that before, but it seems to make a ton of sense. It is different and fun, and the costs seem much more manageable than for light rail or BRT (and of course heavy rail isn't even in the picture for places like Nashville). Plus you don't "lose" a car lane when you put that in, so maybe all the auto-centric folks wouldn't scream too loudly.

Are there any safety issues that make these less feasible?

Great, out of the box thinking!

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Definitely a great alternative for Nashville, but my concern would be that it wouldn't "fly" with our non-mass transit oriented people.

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I think the biggest concern would be with the NIMBY crowd and rightly so. Would you want everyone in town to have an arial view into your back yard?

What kinds of things are these people doing in their back yards? lol

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Definitely a great alternative for Nashville, but my concern would be that it wouldn't "fly" with our non-mass transit oriented people.

I read this a few days ago, and I've been mulling it over a while. I don't want to just dismiss the idea -- it is an innovative solution. But is it a practical one? Would it work here?

It does seem sort of exotic, yes. It's what you normally associate with ski resorts. I can see the draw being that not only do you get to use it for public transit, but it would provide a unique view of the city -- it would be much more exciting being able to float above the traffic. Very cool. The lack of traffic would be it's main draw in my mind.

But there are many concerns that come with it. It seems that a lot of cities that would use this sort of plan are quite hilly. Yes, we have hills, but not to the extreme as to places like Rio. The Portland example is an interesting one...but it only seems to be a single line novelty. I can't really think of a point-to-point location that would make sense to install a tram.

The other issues as have been pointed out have to do with tram lines going over someone's backyard. I can see how that would face resistance. I also think it would look kind of odd, seeing tramlines and towers soaring perhaps more than 100 feet overhead of a city primarily made up of 1-4 story buildings. I think the lines themselves won't be as objectionable as the metal scaffolding that will come with them.

There would be a huge issue as to where to place these towers. I assume they would follow closely with already established commercial corridors, where there is little room or real estate as it is (that in itself might prove as costly -- land acquisition -- as installing a more traditional means of public transit).

Another point I would bring up is maintenance and breakdowns. These systems might be quite reliable, but in the event of a breakdown, it would not be nearly as easy as trading out another bus or train car and continuing service as usual. It would bring the entire route to a standstill. And god help us if anyone is on a tram that gets stuck, suspended in the air for hours (think of rollercoaster breakdowns and the grief that can cause!).

I think it would end up being one single line -- like a lot of cities have with a monorail -- that primarily serves tourist zones and not commuters. More of a novelty than a transportation solution. I just can't imagine a half dozen lines spidering out from downtown being used as a viable transit option. And once you put something up like that, it's likely going to stay, whether it is used or not.

If, and I mean if, we ventured into something such as trams, the only two applications I could see would be a single line that runs from Opryland to the area around LP Field. It would provide tourists an interesting and scenic path through Shelby Bottoms and Shelby Park to downtown, avoiding most residential areas, and crossing mostly city-owned land where land acquisition would not be an issue.

A line could conceivably run from the airport to downtown, provided that the towers could be built low enough for the FAA to not blow a gasket, but it would essentially just ride above interstate 40 and leave visitors scarred with the horrors of the sights along the Lafayette corridor and the industrial properties alongside the interstate, which at present, are mercifully hidden from view.

I honestly think an elevated train would have a better chance of "flying" than a tram, at least as far as the realm of public transportation goes.

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Lol, great points peeps. Nashville is in a type of no-man's land at the moment. It's going to be tough anyway you look at it. Maybe it will come down to what corridor can do what type of transit is a best fit for it. :dontknow:

What kinds of things are these people doing in their back yards? lol

Ya know...NIMBY stuff? :dontknow::lol:

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I read this a few days ago, and I've been mulling it over a while. I don't want to just dismiss the idea -- it is an innovative solution. But is it a practical one? Would it work here?

It does seem sort of exotic, yes. It's what you normally associate with ski resorts. I can see the draw being that not only do you get to use it for public transit, but it would provide a unique view of the city -- it would be much more exciting being able to float above the traffic. Very cool. The lack of traffic would be it's main draw in my mind.

But there are many concerns that come with it. It seems that a lot of cities that would use this sort of plan are quite hilly. Yes, we have hills, but not to the extreme as to places like Rio. The Portland example is an interesting one...but it only seems to be a single line novelty. I can't really think of a point-to-point location that would make sense to install a tram.

The other issues as have been pointed out have to do with tram lines going over someone's backyard. I can see how that would face resistance. I also think it would look kind of odd, seeing tramlines and towers soaring perhaps more than 100 feet overhead of a city primarily made up of 1-4 story buildings. I think the lines themselves won't be as objectionable as the metal scaffolding that will come with them.

There would be a huge issue as to where to place these towers. I assume they would follow closely with already established commercial corridors, where there is little room or real estate as it is (that in itself might prove as costly -- land acquisition -- as installing a more traditional means of public transit).

Another point I would bring up is maintenance and breakdowns. These systems might be quite reliable, but in the event of a breakdown, it would not be nearly as easy as trading out another bus or train car and continuing service as usual. It would bring the entire route to a standstill. And god help us if anyone is on a tram that gets stuck, suspended in the air for hours (think of rollercoaster breakdowns and the grief that can cause!).

I think it would end up being one single line -- like a lot of cities have with a monorail -- that primarily serves tourist zones and not commuters. More of a novelty than a transportation solution. I just can't imagine a half dozen lines spidering out from downtown being used as a viable transit option. And once you put something up like that, it's likely going to stay, whether it is used or not.

If, and I mean if, we ventured into something such as trams, the only two applications I could see would be a single line that runs from Opryland to the area around LP Field. It would provide tourists an interesting and scenic path through Shelby Bottoms and Shelby Park to downtown, avoiding most residential areas, and crossing mostly city-owned land where land acquisition would not be an issue.

A line could conceivably run from the airport to downtown, provided that the towers could be built low enough for the FAA to not blow a gasket, but it would essentially just ride above interstate 40 and leave visitors scarred with the horrors of the sights along the Lafayette corridor and the industrial properties alongside the interstate, which at present, are mercifully hidden from view.

I honestly think an elevated train would have a better chance of "flying" than a tram, at least as far as the realm of public transportation goes.

Many good points.

Responding to several, more or less randomly:

An elevated train has most if not all of the same disadvantages, with far more noise and way more expensive infrastructure.

I think the privacy thing is not so big a deal downtown and in the gulch, or flying over the river, parks and industrial areas. Elsewhere I'd like to see it, whether gondolas or monorail or aerial tram, through Vandy/Hillsboro Village/Green Hills, and along similar corridors, at about the height of an elevated train (it would be a lot quieter) and this isn't much of a privacy concern except for people whose back yards are right along the ROW, and they don't have much privacy already.

As for the possible delays due to mechanical problems/repairs, cable systems are in widespread use around the world, both cable cars and aerial systems, and I've never heard this was an issue. Any transport system has its failures and none have as many slowdowns (or as many deaths and injuries) as cars.

The towers can be built directly over sidewalks without impairing foot traffic, and can be designed aesthetically, although there always going to be some jerk to complain about the aesthetics, but I not only think these systems look great and would give the city some real distinctive branding, but even if they looked awful, they look better than parking lots and strip malls, so those people should shut up. ("Shut the hell up", however, should not be part of the marketing program.)

I think it would probably be better to sell it as an "elevated cable car" or something rather than a gondola or monorail, both of which conjure resort town images, and there's no practical reason why such a system should be restricted to vacationers. There's a blurry line between trams and trains, the main distinction here being cables vs tracks and light, motorless cars rather than heavier cars that use a lot of energy to move around.

Such a system also gets around one of the problems with buses in hilly, wooded cities, which is that you can't see the bus coming and thus aren't sure it really is coming. Small, frequent trams will be visible a ways off and there will be only a short wait. If the system gets crowded at peak times, people will have to wait their turn to get on a tram, like on a roller coaster, but they'll be seeing trams coming and going every 60 seconds or whatever, so it'll be less anxiety inducing.

We definitely don't need a point-to-point system like Portland (or like the incline railway in Chattanooga--in high school I knew kids who rode that as part of their commute to school, but it's basically a novelty--is it still running?). I'd advocate the type of system that makes numerous stops, turns corners, etc.

A great advantage over BRT is that you don't need to add drivers to add cabs. It's generally said that employees are the biggest part of the operating cost of transit systems, although that probably depends on the price of diesel.

I'd like to encourage more conversation about this, because I think the main challenge such a system faces in Nashville is just that not many people have really thought about it.

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I've been doing a little more reading on this since I posted before. It looks like something similar is being preliminarily discussed in Austin. I'll post more tomorrow on the subject.....I've gotta get to bed now.

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Not to pick on you, Neige (because I don't recall if you have ever said this), but I find it kind of funny that there are so many complaints about the exposed power lines downtown (especially the metal towers). Won't this have basically the same effect?

I think aesthetically it could look *ok* in an area where there are a lot of mid-high rise buildings (West End, Vandy, maybe)...but once you pass beyond the 10 story buildings, these things are going to stick out...and I mean really stick out. And in my opinion, not in a good way.

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The Incline is still in operation. "World's Steepest Mile"

I find all this interesting, but you guys know it as well as I do... Nashville never planned for mass transit and is so far behind the curve. Plus, your Congressman Jim Cooper is a hardliner against federal funding for local transit and other earmarks. He's really worthless, but (go figure) he keeps getting elected.

Edited by MLBrumby

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The Incline is still in operation. "World's Steepest Mile"

I find all this interesting, but you guys know it as well as I do... Nashville never planned for mass transit and is so far behind the curve. Plus, your Congressman Jim Cooper is a hardliner against federal funding for local transit and other earmarks. He's really worthless, but (go figure) he keeps getting elected.

Cooper is likely going to win as long as he runs. The 5th will likely never be usurped by a Republican (it would have to be an epic candidate), and as a safe seat, there's no reason for the Democrats to get rid of him. Incumbency makes it very difficult to unseat him, even in favor of another Democrat.

I actually agree with Cooper's stance on earmarks and pork barrel spending...but there are times (such as with the federal courthouse) that his stance costs us because other Congressmen are more than willing pick up his slack.

The problem with the courthouse is that it's not even about "wasting" government money...we've simply outgrown our current facility.

We're stuck with Cooper for the foreseeable future.

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Not to pick on you, Neige (because I don't recall if you have ever said this), but I find it kind of funny that there are so many complaints about the exposed power lines downtown (especially the metal towers). Won't this have basically the same effect?

I think aesthetically it could look *ok* in an area where there are a lot of mid-high rise buildings (West End, Vandy, maybe)...but once you pass beyond the 10 story buildings, these things are going to stick out...and I mean really stick out. And in my opinion, not in a good way.

Well the power lines are generally a mess of a patchwork of various power lines, poles, etc. If it is just one single system and a more purposeful skyway, it could be ok. Plus, I would think the tram would be much higher than power lines, which have the lower 20 feet on lock. The same could be said for street cars. I've seen pictures of a mess of those wires too, but I think people would tolerate them just because they are street cars. Prejudice against wires, mercy me.

Yeah, I think Nashville is a bit screwed when it comes to MT. Hopefully, various types can be used synergistically.

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Yeah, I think Nashville is a bit screwed when it comes to MT. Hopefully, various types can be used synergistically.

I think one positive is that Nashville is doing a good job of urban infill right now. Hopefully by the next Census, we'll be able to see where a lot of these smaller core projects are starting to make an impact on our core population density.

Right now, our core doesn't have the density to support "big city" public transit IMO. It's not that it's low density, but a lot of the populated areas are 3-7,000 ppsm. That's great for buses, but not necessarily heavier forms of mass transit.

Certain neighborhoods will have a hard time reaching higher density because of the prevalence of single family homes. In the old days, it was common to see whole families -- 5 to 6 or more people -- living in a single house. Nowadays, especially in the gentrified zones, you're seeing a lot more of 2 to 3. I think the high density (10-20,000+) development is going to be confined to certain busy corridors and what I refer to as the "concrete core", which includes a lot of industrial brownfields and low density commercial/industrial that could be redeveloped without upsetting the neighborhood fabric.

Outside the core, though, you have some higher density development (especially to the Southeast)...but it is all over the map. Lots of apartments sprawled out on hillsides, and a mess of streets that wind, and some that do not connect. Basically, you have a lot of people in one area, but not in a way that makes it easy to serve them with public transit.

I do think the best way for Nashville to build a solid urban environment will be to build from the core out. But less than 1/3 of our residents live inside the loop. We have to take a balanced approach and not forget that we are serving more areas than just downtown with public transit.

Because of the makeup of our city and metro area, I think we need a multi-layered transportation plan.

I'd love to go on further, but I think we are seriously deviating from the thread topic. It would be prudent to move the majority of the discussion in the last page or two to the transit thread.

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