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Public Life Survey Launched for Lower Broadway Redesign Project



NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Nashville Civic Design Center, Metro Public Works, RPM Transportation Consultants and Gehl Studios gathered today for an all-day workshop to create concepts for installations and strategies to improve the pedestrian experience and overall quality of Broadway as well as develop design ideas for First Avenue. Workshop attendees included representatives from:

  • Nashville’s Mayor’s Office
  • Metro Council
  • The District + Historic Commission
  • Merchants in the downtown area
  • Nashville Downtown Partnership
  • Hawkins Partners, Inc.
  • Metro Government Departments including the Planning Department, Metro Arts Commission, Health Department, Police Department, MTA
  • Nashville Chamber of Commerce
  • Nashville Area MPO
  • TDOT
  • Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Walk Bike Nashville

Today’s workshop marks the 3rd phase of the Lower Broadway Pedestrian Improvements project and Metro has now brought in both Gehl Studios and the Nashville Civic Design Center along with RPM Transportation Consultants, Inc. to help lead the effort for the reimagining of this busy and vibrant corridor. “I am thrilled we have the expertise of Gehl Studios and the Nashville Civic Design Center along with our community and all stakeholders to develop and implement a shared vision for Broadway,” said Mayor Barry. “This globally-recognized and iconic street needs to be fun, safe for pedestrians, and easy to navigate for residents, downtown employees, and visitors alike.”

From New York to San Francisco, to Denmark, Australia and more, design firm, Gehl Studios, has contributed to the redesign of urban cities world-wide. “We are very excited to be working in the great city of Nashville,” said Matthew Lister, Gehl Studios Director. We believe we can capture the creativity of the citizens of Nashville to make Lower Broadway and the downtown district a better place for all the tourists who come here, and also a better place for Nashvillians.”

"Nashville's proactive planning and vision has fueled incredible growth and resurgence of Downtown and the Middle Tennessee region. Broadway, as the historic heart of Nashville and our city's "Main Street," provides the opportunity to create one of the best streetscapes in the world,” said Gary Gaston, Nashville Civic Design Center Executive Director. “Nashvillian's should insist on nothing less." The Nashville Civic Design Center’s mission is to elevate the quality of Nashville's built environment and to promote public participation in the creation of a more beautiful and functional city.

In August 2015, Metro Public Works implemented the 1st phase of the pilot project aimed at improving the safety and mobility of the growing numbers of pedestrians on lower Broadway, 1st to 5th Avenues. The streetscape changes, which most visibly included the installation of temporary fencing, were a product of months of pedestrian observations and data collection as well as working with various stakeholders in the downtown area. In addition to fencing to expand the pedestrian zone, the pilot project included a dedicated universal loading zone and adding “pedestrian only” crossing time (including diagonal crossings) at Lower Broadway intersections.

The 1st phase of the pilot project resulted in the determination that traffic, parking, loading, and other vehicular aspects of Lower Broad continued to operate well, even with the usable pedestrian area being expanded into one of the street lanes. The pilot project also had the positive results of:

  • Discouraging pedestrians from crossing Broadway mid-block (away from a traffic signal),
  • Reducing the number of crashes along Lower Broadway, and,
  • Increased pedestrian capacity with less frequent overcrowding of sidewalks.

Earlier this September, the project entered a 2nd phase of visioning; piloting pedestrian-friendly walking and sitting zones between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Street furniture, plants, and blue lanes were painted to mark the new public space. The Metro Planning Department designed the Broadway upgrade in connection with “PARK(ing) Day,” an annual, international event led by Nashville Civic Design Center which promotes improved walkability and increases awareness of the importance of urban public space.

The goal of this 3rd phase is to determine and implement the best form of permanent improvements for the Lower Broadway pedestrian streetscape. Today's workshop, led by Gehl Studios and Civic Design Center, will initiate the creation of a shared vision for the future of downtown Nashville's Lower Broadway and craft a shared understanding of all challenges and opportunities that exist as well. The workshop will additionally generate 2-3 models for Lower Broadway. “This process with Gehl Studios and other civic leaders and businesses is allowing us to build on the potential we’ve already recognized that is the Nashville brand,” said Betsy Williams, Chair of the District Project Investment Task Force. “It will allow us to improve and manage our public spaces as we grow and prosper even more.”

Included in the workshop were break-out sessions for participants to gain understanding of public realm challenges and opportunities, a site walk of the Lower Broadway and surrounding area, discussion on how to bring various ideas for the area to life, and training on how to make public life the driver for downtown Nashville.

Later this fall, a “Public Space, Public Life” (PSPL) survey will be launched to determine what type of infrastructure will most enhance the Lower Broad experience for tourists, shoppers, and business owners, as well as downtown residents and workers. The PSPL gathers stakeholder and public input as well as input from the first 2 project phases in order to understand how people move to, through, and use the public realm and will take place later this fall. A public realm action plan for Lower Broadway is expected finalized later this year.

More information about the Lower Broadway Pedestrian Improvements project