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Metro Council passes Mayor Barry's amended $8.9 B transit plan to public vote

(Fox 17 News)

Metro Nashville Council passed an amended version of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's $8.9 billion transit plan on Tuesday night to send it to a public vote in May.

The council passed the transit plan 34-2 late Tuesday night, and it will be on the May 1 ballot for Davidson County voters. Barry proposed the billion-dollar transit plan back in October as a solution for Nashville's 'growing gridlock.'

“This is an important step forward in giving Nashvillians a voice in their transit future, and I thank my fellow members of Council for giving them the opportunity to do so in May,” Councilman Jeremy Elrod said in a news release. “Our city’s traffic problems aren’t going anywhere, and we need to put a solution in action as soon as possible that alleviates our congestion issues. I look forward to voting for the transit plan on May 1, when I’m confident our city will choose to invest in transit.”

Key components of the plan include the city's first light rail system, rapid bus transit and increasing the frequency of the existing MTA bus network. Read a full breakdown of the plan here.

The amended version of the plan that passed on Tuesday night included language to clarify the cost of the transit plan as $8.9 billion, much higher than the previously thought $5.4 billion. The council established that the $8.9 billion price tag reflects the long term costs of the transit plan, as the lower amount was the original estimate for construction and implementation of the plan.

"We're trying to be transparent and have full disclosure," Elrod said.

"This is the largest project in Metro history," Councilman Jim Shulman said. "We need to be transparent with the voters...we need to tell people what they're voting for."

Proposals to pay for the transit plan include a 20 percent surcharge on the business tax, a quarter cent increase in the hotel/motel tax, 20 percent surcharge on rental cars, or a half cent sales tax that will be implemented on July 1, 2018, and will grow to one cent in 2023.

Mayor Barry tweeted her thanks to the council for moving forward with the transit plan.

"We look forward to the public weighing in on the Let’s Move Nashville plan this spring," Nashville MTA said in a statement. "In the meantime, we will continue to work toward implementing improvements and providing safe and reliable service for our riders."

Prior to Tuesday's vote, some shared concerns that the measure would be tabled following the mayor's admission of an extramarital affair with her former head of security detail.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with the latest information available.

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