MTA gets shamed about prison-like bathroom conditions, finally promises to fix the problem

Recently, Music City Riders United, a group of MTA riders working to improve the transit system, circulated a photo of the men’s bathroom at Music City Central:

Music City Central is MTA’s central bus station next to the state capitol.  Fox 17 is reporting that the MTA is promising to fix the problem only after being publicly shamed.

The bathroom has looked like this for weeks.  And there is usually no toilet paper available and no water in the sinks.

Later on, Music City Riders Union compared Music City Central’s restrooms to those of Riverfront Station, which serves the Music City Star commuter train:

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Nashville’s public pools during the Civil Rights Movement

Erin Tocknell, who grew up in Nashville some years after the Civil Rights Movement, wrote an excellent piece about the turmoil surrounding the integration of Nashville’s public swimming pools:

It had taken the Parks Board — a public/private governing entity — roughly 48 hours to decide how to handle the juxtaposition of public swimming and the Civil Rights Movement: Every public pool in Nashville was closed that afternoon, all of them drained and winterized by the end of the week. The citywide swim meet scheduled for that Friday was cancelled, 150 trophies for young competitors put in storage. All public swimming pools remained closed until 1963.

Centennial’s never reopened.

Bitter Southerner published the feature article, which is worth a read.

Earlier: Centennial Park to Host Art Show for Black History Month

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North Nashville’s I-40 divide to be considered at federally-sponsored design session

When Interstate 40 was built through North Nashville in 1968, it cut off this vibrant African American community from many of its businesses, especially ones along Jefferson St.  And now the U.S. Department of Transportation wants to rectify that.

In October 1967, a group of neighborhood activists organized as the I-40 Steering Committee to file suit against the state over the route of the new highway.  They claimed that the route was discriminatory because it cut the predominately minority neighborhood in half.  The group argued that the highway would discourage citizens from walking or driving to the other side to patronize businesses on Jefferson St, forcing many of them to close, and cutting people off from North Nashville’s universities.  On top of that, many residents of the neighborhood were forced to abandon their homes to make way for the new Interstate.

They were ultimately defeated, however.  The court agreed with the state that the route was not discriminatory and that neighborhood residents had been given sufficient notice to express their concerns about the route.

The effect on the community was devastating, as the Tennessee State Museum wrote:

Many of the predictions by the Steering Committee came to pass. Within a year of construction, the majority of the businesses in the area had suffered financially. Many closed. The value of housing had dropped more than 30 percent. Many people feel that this community has never fully recovered from the traumatic effects of the highway.

But now, Nashville has been selected as a winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Every Place Counts Design Challenge for its proposal to restitch North Nashville back together and to reconnect the neighborhood with its vibrant past:

Nashville’s I-40 was built through several predominantly African American, middle class neighborhoods in the 1960s, displacing  residents and dividing a thriving community. Nashville plans to utilize well-established community partnership networks, gather input from community residents and business owners, host design sessions, synthesize ideas, and pursue implementation funds through its two-day design session.

Metro Councilman Freddie O’Connell is hoping that this design session will involve Jefferson St in a major way, though he’s still seeking clarification on the details.  “Huge opportunity for Nashville to begin repairing some of the damage done by I-40 to Jefferson St.,” he tweeted today.

The design session will happen in Nashville July 11–12 and will involve “elected officials, urban planners, designers, and a cross-section of local residents,” according to the Department of Transportation.

Other cities selected for the design challenge include Spokane, Wash., Philadelphia, Pa., and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.  All of the cities are trying to address problems created when Interstate highways split communities in two.

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