The Music City Star became the focal point of discussion among city and county leaders and regional transportation personnel during a recent meeting at the Five Oaks Golf and Country Club.
The meeting, presented by the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, featured Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee executive director Jessica Dauphin, who discussed the region’s transportation and its impact on Wilson County.
Lebanon Planning Commissioner chairman David Taylor questioned the different funding mechanisms used by Davidson County and other areas, which led to a discussion on Wilson County’s biggest stake in regional transportation — the Music City Star.
“It’s working really well, but like most of our transit options in the region, it could be better. There could be more trains during the day, on the weekends or later at night. It could be more convenient for those of you who have lived here, and probably work here, too, to get to Nashville,” Dauphin said.
A developer is planning to open 220 living units in the spring adjacent to the Mt. Juliet train station.
Dauphin said the challenge for more train runs is funding for positive train control.
“We can’t have any more runs on that track — one with people on them — because of positive train control,” Dauphin said. “That is now a federal mandate.”
Positive train control is a system that has the ability to automatically stop or slow down a train after human error in order to avoid train crashes. The system is designed to determine the location and speed of trains, warn operators of potential problems and automatically takes action if an operator fails to respond to the warning.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, a member of the Greater Nashville Regional Council’s Mayors Caucus, said the Music City Star can run only 12 trips per day until the Regional Transit Authority can pay about $25 million in order to install the system on the 32-mile route.
The funding for the positive train control was included in the Metro Nashville mass-transit plan, which was rejected by voters in 2018.
Dauphin said there are several parties working together to find a way to add or alter Music City Star trips that stay within guidelines until funding is in place for the positive train control.