Sixty years ago, the construction on what is now I-40 began, visibly disrupting and destroying the Black community along Jefferson Street. Effects from the construction are still being felt today. On October 9, hundreds of residents met in the lot at Lee Chapel AME to discuss the ‘Jefferson Street Cap.’
The Jefferson Street Cap project is focused on engaging North Nashville community members and stakeholders in discussions about land space Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) is pursuing as a to-be-developed interstate cap above I-40 (near the Dr. D.B.Todd, Jr. Blvd. overpass) and what that space could offer, if the community input supports the process. Further, participants will be asked to assess the viability of several design concepts that take into account what the developed space could be using a visibility survey that includes multiple options.
“Metro Nashville DOT supports the fact that what was done 60 years ago hurt the community,” said Faye DiMassimo, Metro Nashville Department of Transportation’s director. “We are now able, interested and willing to put something up for the community to consider that could be a catalyst for healing the rift that intentionally decimated a once vibrant economic center. It would be misguided to think this heals all of the hurt, but it could be a start.”
Mayor John Cooper, city officials, and North Nashville community leaders began the community engagement process for the Jefferson Street Cap, including ways residents can weigh-in with thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas.
“The Jefferson Street Cap can be a powerful community project,” said Mayor John Cooper. “What we build, where we build, and the respect and intention we put into building it is all an opportunity to honor the North Nashville community.”
The meeting was the first of several designed to get feedback from the community.
According to Perri duGard Owens, who heads the communication team for the project, The Jefferson Street Cap would be paid for through a combination of earmarked city, state, and possibly federal funds.
“There would be no immediate or projected costs to the North Nashville community,” she said.
Residents may find more information and provide input at <www.jeffersonstreetcap.dugardcommunications.com>, where they can take a survey, find ways to get involved in the process, as well as gain insight on the background of the project.