‘Transportation Modernization Act’ Introduces Express Toll Lanes in Nashville

In April of 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed off on the ‘Transportation Modernization Act’, a $3.3 billion highway bill that has the potential to change the future of traffic in Nashville.

The act authorizes the creation of ‘choice lanes’, that will be initially introduced on I-24, giving Tennessee drivers an option to pay to bypass traffic. These highway lanes will operate on a supply/demand narrative, with prices varying based on congestion. The prices will be highest during rush hour, generating more money from drivers who choose to pay their way through.

“The goal is to relieve congestion and create more reliable trip times,” a TDOT spokesperson said in an email to governing.com, “While many motorists may choose to stay in the general-purpose lanes, they still enjoy the benefit of reduced congestion as other motorists move into the additional choice lanes.”

For drivers in Tennessee, the introduction of toll roads has the opportunity to fund highway maintenance, potentially reducing the gas tax and other fees that may be funding our roads construction now. Another pro to the Transportation Modernization Act would be the increase in use of public transit systems, reducing congestion overall and the amount of air pollution from cars in the city. Buses, according to the act, will be able to pass through without paying, making transportation throughout Nashville more reliable while also encouraging some drivers to use the public transportation systems we do have in place.

“After many studies, feasibility studies, congestion studies, and really it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this is one of the most traveled corridors in the state, and with the anticipated growth in that area, we know that this particular corridor is one that really needs to be addressed,” said Rebekah Hammonds, a community relations officer with TDOT, in response to their choice of I-24. 

The first phases of construction are not planned to begin until the summer of 2026, and the current price of these tolls are unknown this early in the process. TDOT will be conducting community conversations as well as planning the cost, design, and construction of this project with a private entity, according to Hammonds.

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