Category: Tennessee

Knoxville, TN welcomes Smart Growth America for workshop on transit-oriented development

knoxville-tnKnoxville wants to build on the success of places like Market Square (above). Photo via.

Downtown Knoxville, TN, is seeing a resurgence. New businesses and residents are moving to the area, and the City is working hard to bring similar success to neighborhoods throughout the city. Could investments in public transportation help?

To help answer that question, leaders in Knoxville welcomed Smart Growth America on July 15 and 16, 2015 for a technical assistance workshop on transit-oriented development. Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Economic Development, and Dena Belzer, President of Strategic Economics, spoke with elected leaders, municipal staff, representatives from regional and state agencies, and Knoxville residents about how investment in public transit could multiply the city’s economic development successes.

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Department of Planning Executive Director Rick Bernhardt on community engagement for a better Nashville, TN

rbernhardtRick Bernhardt, right, discusses different development strategies with Nashville residents. Photo by NashvilleNext via Twitter.

Nashville, TN, is a creative city with a rich history in the arts that has recently seen new growth in both its population and economy. Rick Bernhardt, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Department and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to make sure the city’s development supports that growth.

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Franklin, TN hosts workshop to consider development strategies for economic growth

franklin-tn3
Downtown Franklin, TN. Photo by Wayne Hsieh via Flickr.

Smart Growth America staff met with officials from the City of Franklin, TN, on March 3 and 4, 2015, to discuss a range of strategies to position Franklin for long-term economic growth in the context of new development pressures and rapid population growth. Franklin was awarded the two-day workshop as part of Smart Growth America’s annual free technical assistance competition.

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Announcing the recipients of Smart Growth America’s 2015 free technical assistance


The City of Franklin, TN is one of 14 communities that will receive a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America in 2015.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce the 14 communities selected to receive free workshops in 2015 as part of our free technical assistance program.

Posted in Featured Content, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Technical assistance, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Improved community outreach pays off for Tennessee Department of Transportation

Many state DOTs select transportation projects without much coordination with their local jurisdictions. Recently officials in Tennessee decided to do better. Now, key officials from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) have reinvented how the department interacts with local communities to create better outcomes for projects across the state while saving taxpayer money at the same time.

In our April profile of TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, we explained how Schroer initiated a “top to bottom” review of the department. Part of Schroer’s vision for TDOT is for state planners to work more proactively with local communities in the early planning and design phases of transportation projects. Schroer then created a new team tasked with changing the way TDOT plans, designs and funds transportation projects across the state.

The figure leading this charge for TDOT is Toks Omishakin, Assistant Commissioner of Environment and Planning. In 2011, Schroer appointed Omishakin as Deputy Commissioner with the aim of better coordinating TDOT’s long-range planning and project management. A planner by trade with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and previous roles with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Omishakin is rethinking TDOT’s approach to community relations and transforming how TDOT plans and consults with local governments across the state.

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City of Memphis, TN hosts workshop on how to implement its Complete Streets policy

Picture for past workshops page post- Memphis
View of Memphis’ South Main Arts District. Photo by Henry Turley Company via henryturley.com 

In 2013, Memphis passed the nation’s 500th Complete Streets policy. To help move the policy to implementation, Memphis officials and residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 18 and 19, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide the City with tools to not only address the various design elements of Complete Streets, but also to directly communicate the benefits of Complete Streets to the public. Complete Streets are planned, designed, operated and maintained to be safe, comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, bicycling, driving, or hopping on public transportation.

Posted in Blog, Complete Streets: Policy Implementation, Technical assistance, Tennessee, Uncategorized, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transportation Commissioner John Schroer sets ambitious goals for Tennessee Department of Transportation

Over the next few months, we are highlighting state transportation officials that are using new approaches and innovative ideas to help solve their states’ transportation challenges. To follow these updates and other news from our work around the country, be sure to sign up for the Smart Growth America newsletter.

When John Schroer was appointed Commissioner of Transportation for the state of Tennessee in 2011, he immediately took a hands-on approach to helping local leaders find solutions to their transportation challenges across the state while helping to save taxpayer money at the same time.

Within weeks of his appointment in 2011, Schroer initiated a “top to bottom” review of TDOT, including its organization, processes and leadership. “We’ve basically broken down the department and built it back up,” said Schroer in a recent conversation with Smart Growth America. “We looked at everything we did and analyzed it from a production and financial standpoint.”

In 2012, Schroer partnered with Smart Growth America and his TDOT leaders to find ways the department could use its resources more efficiently, create better outcomes and save taxpayer money. The resulting guide, Transportation Process Alternatives for Tennessee – Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, was the product of months of collaboration between Smart Growth America experts, TDOT management, regional and community representatives, and transportation advocates. According to Schroer, the project is “intended to serve as a guide for our department’s program activities as we continue to evaluate our transportation needs and priorities with the goals of better stimulating our economy, protecting our environment and building our communities.”

Posted in Blog, Tennessee | 1 Comment

Hear the recap: Repair Priorities 2014 online discussion

Yesterday we unveiled Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads. The release featured an online discussion with leaders from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as well as state transportation department representatives from Vermont, Michigan and Tennessee. Panelists shared insights and strategies for how states are managing their road repair needs in a time of constrained budgets by using tools like asset management practices; focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads; setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

If you were not able to join us for yesterday’s event, an archived recording is now available.

Watch the archived webinar
Download the presentation (PDF)

Joining yesterday’s event were Roger Millar, Vice President, Smart Growth America; Steve Ellis, Vice President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Rich Tetreault, Director of Program Development, Vermont Agency on Transportation, Polly Kent, Administer, Intermodal Policy Division, Michigan Department of Transportation; and Steve Allen, Strategic Transportation Investments Director, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Thank you to everyone who participated. The event provided valuable insights for how states can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

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