The Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority met Thursday to discuss several topics. The topic generating the most discussion was new legislation regarding transportation equity.
Railroad Authority Chairman Mike Jennings said he and Henry Schumpf attended a meeting with Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer regarding funding issues.
“We talked about our funding issues and discussed some options.,” Jennings said. “[It’s] up in the air as far as new legislation set to go into effect July 1. There could be money flowing by the end of the year.”
Bill Drunsic explained that legislation regarding diesel taxes is being sent to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk for his signature. The bill “enacts the ‘Transportation Fuel Equity Act’; uniformly taxes all commercial carriers using diesel fuel to transport persons or property for a fee; establishes the manner for collection of the tax.”
The new legislation could cause some shortfall, Drunsic noted, but he added it was “better than nothing.”
In other reports, Regional Transportation Authority’s Lora Baulsir reported ridership numbers for the commuter rail.
“Ridership has held steady,” she said. Total regular daytime ridership numbers for the first quarter of 2014 were 59,363. That was a 1.4 percent decrease from the same period last year.
The RTA is also sending bids for a study on commuter services to Clarksville and the authority is having a consultant help develop a master plan and look at all services the commuter rail will offer in the future.
Mike Wrye with Lose and Associates gave a brief update on the proposed rail stop in Hamilton Springs. The stop will include a station platform with 225 parking spaces.
One member asked if the station access will be friendly to those who wish to walk there.
“Everything we’ve done there…roadway crossings provide for wide sidewalks, we’re making it as convenient as possible for pedestrians to access the Music City Star,” said Wrye.