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Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO): Active Transportation Funding Policy

Potential Public Health Impact

Reach:  Comprehensive transportation planning and infrastructure development has strong potential for broad reach, which in the Nashville metropolitan area includes nearly 1.5 million people. The NMPO specifically worked to increase its reach to populations and communities at greatest risk by looking at multiple data sources and conducting in-depth formative work to identify areas at greatest risk and subsequently prioritized those areas in its planning process.

Effectiveness: Evidence of effectiveness of changing the targeted outcomes is emerging. The NMPO employs the several evidence-based strategies: active transportation, increasing access to and number of places for physical activity, and urban design/policy and zoning to facilitate physical activity. Data from the MPO suggests that the policy has been effective at promoting the inclusion of an active transportation component in funding proposals. In the most recent funding cycle for the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan, 75% of 420 roadway project proposals included an active transportation component. The policy has also been effective at increasing monetary resources for active transportation. In the first round of funding through the the Active Transportation Program, the MPO funded eight active transportation proposals (out of ten submissions). Although it is too soon to assess the effects on infrastructure and transportation behaviors, the NMPO has plans to measure those outcomes over time.

Adoption: The NMPO approach has been adopted by a single MPO. However, it has potential to be adopted in others.

Implementation: The NMPO has taken a careful approach to monitoring and ensuring implementation of the policy. They have developed a detailed and systematic approach to rating transportation proposals in a way that gives priority for the inclusion of active transport and for addressing transport issues in high disparity areas.

Maintenance: The policy includes a 25-year plan and is funded by several public streams of funding. The potential for long term maintenance is high. However, since funding is largely determined at the federal level, there is a risk that funding levels will fluctuate over time.