Music City Star riders in Mt. Juliet are in a parking pinch because spaces at the train station are filling up and commuters’ access to parking across the street from the station will be shut off Monday with threats to tow vehicles.
One factor is that a $2.5 million WeGo Transit project to expand parking at the Mt. Juliet station scheduled to begin in the summer has been delayed until 2020. Also, train ridership from that station has increased.
Commuters have been using parking spaces at the two-building Town Center development across the street from the train station. But that development is nearly full with tenants and those tenants’ customers are using the parking spaces.
Currently there are 174 parking spaces at the Mt. Juliet train station. The expansion project is expected to add about 100 more spaces.
Space across the street
Momentum Commercial Real Estate Services, which manages the Town Center development, posted a notice that train riders could no longer use Town Center parking spaces.
Gwyn Burchett found a letter stuck to her windshield, as did all others identified as commuters who used Town Center parking spaces.
It said, “Town Center Station 1 & 2 is private property and the parking lots are for our tenants and their guests. Each week an increasing number of train commuters are parking here, to the point there is no parking available for the tenants or the guests throughout the day. We are asking you to please park in the parking lot designated for commuter parking.
“Starting Monday, November 18, 2019, we will start towing violators.”
Burchett said she was alarmed when she got the letter.
“I don’t want to be towed because I want to ride the late train,” she said.
Town Center property manager Sharon Greaves said she and her staff put the letters on vehicles at the train station and in Town Center’s parking lot.
“We’ve got two full buildings here now,” she said. “The Mt. Juliet Chamber is here and they have a lot of meetings throughout the week as well. Train passengers try to park in the back of our parking lots, but it’s been an encroachment because now there are so many train passengers and there is no room at the station to park anymore.”
She said she cannot regulate the parking lot throughout the day.
“Simply, we are full here and can’t accommodate,” she said. “We are going to try to watch the first few days. We don’t want to tow, but we have to do something. This is our first step and we are going to get a towing company.”
The WeGo response
Greaves said she doesn’t understand why there is no expansion work on the train station parking lot.
“We’ve spoken with some officials of RTA. They asked if we could mark off some spots for their riders, and we did for quite a while,” Greaves said. “But now we are getting complaints from patients who use our tenants’ business and they can’t park. The expansion was supposed to be complete by July this past summer.”
Greaves said she even suggested to WeGo Transit that a gravel parking lot nearby could be used for temporary parking.
“The project was delayed in going out to bid because we’d been working with the City of Mt. Juliet to make some design changes to better address connectivity to their planned greenway, as well as reworking some elements to better address storm water concerns,” WeGo Transit Public Information Officer Amanda Clelland said Tuesday morning.
Clelland said bidding on the Mt. Juliet station parking expansion will close Dec. 17. She said WeGo reached out to the Town Center owners “to see if there is any way our passengers could continue using the parking lot at 2055 North Mt. Juliet Road that will not obstruct tenant and patient access to the businesses on site, but the owners have opted to prioritize the parking needs of their business tenants and guests.”
She said WeGo staff scouted for additional locations for overflow parking.
“But none were available,” Clelland said. “Until the parking lot expansion is completed in 2020, we recommend that passengers utilize nearby stations if they do not live in Mt. Juliet to catch the Star. These stations all have the ability to accommodate more passenger parking.”
Those other stations are the Hermitage, Martha and Hamilton Springs stations, she said.