Is It 1964? Because Tennessee Is Considering a Monorail for Nashville.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 1 2014 6:27 PM

Is It 1964? Because Tennessee Is Considering a Monorail for Nashville.

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The Mumbai Monorail opened in February.

Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

Like smartwatches and teleporters, monorails are a weirdly enduring icon of futurism. For most of the 20th century, they represented what could be possible in transportation advances. But they're also not that cool. And they've had a mixed track record in the United States (when implemented outside of theme parks, that is). So maybe in 2014 they're gone for good? Nope. The Tennessee Senate has proposed a feasibility study to find out what it would take to build one in Nashville.

There are awful—and worsening—traffic problems on I-24 between the city and Murfreesboro (which should be a roughly 40-minute drive). So Bill Ketron, a senator from Murfreesboro, has proposed building a monorail in the middle of the highway that would bring commuters back and forth.

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The Tennessee Senate voted 31-0 to conduct a feasibility study for the project, which will now be voted on by the state House of Representatives. One advantage to building the monorail over the median of the highway is that the state wouldn't have to buy private land in addition to footing construction costs to get the project off the ground.

It's unclear whether the plan will progress and how it will be funded, but if the feasibility study is approved, the Department of Transportation will present it on or before Feb. 1, 2015. You can't stop progress, even if the idea is 100 years old and got its Simpsons spoof 21 years ago.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.