Vanderbilt, Metro envision ambitious  bicycle and pedestrian corridor project at Jess Neely Drive 

Metro Nashville leadership and Vanderbilt University have proposed a vision that will transform Jess Neely Drive, a public road adjacent to Vanderbilt’s football and baseball stadiums, into a bicycle and pedestrian corridor featuring state-of-the-art hardscape improvements.  

The proposed bicycle and pedestrian corridor will serve as the connecting artery for improvements and operational enhancements to multiple Vanderbilt Athletics facilities and will increase biking and walking connectivity to Centennial Park. Various aspects of the proposal will require city council approval before moving forward. 

 Metro and Vanderbilt University share a common vision to enhance the cycling and walking experience and increase multimodal transportation opportunities throughout Davidson County. Jess Neely will permanently close to vehicular traffic (except emergency vehicles) and remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists, featuring the following amenities:  

  • Hardscape improvements using permeable pavers   
  • Site walls to address grade changes throughout the corridor   
  • Seating opportunities, including seat walls for pedestrian comfort, socializing or relaxation 
  • Enhanced tree canopy 
  • Enhanced landscape to provide layering to the architecture and address the grade change   
  • Bike parking   
  • Decorative and dark sky lighting of tree canopy 

“We are proud to partner with Metro to make enhancements to the pedestrian experience around our campus and promote a more walkable, bikeable area that the public can enjoy,” said Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor of administration at Vanderbilt University. 

photograph of Centennial Park
Centennial Park in the spring

Many of the upgrades to public infrastructure at Jess Neely Drive and surrounding areas are associated with the separation of combined storm/sewer lines in the Kerrigan Basin, Metro’s largest combined sewer basin. Vanderbilt will upgrade public water lines and separate the combined sewer line, part of a larger Metro stormwater mitigation effort to protect the Cumberland River.  

The enhancements require upwards of $22.1 million worth of upgrades to public utilities and infrastructure, all of which Vanderbilt has agreed to financially support, including:  

  • Along Jess Neely Drive, approximately $6 million of Metro Public Utility infrastructure upgrades/improvements  
  • Along Natchez Trace, approximately $7.9 million of MPU infrastructure upgrades/improvements   
  • Along 25th Avenue, Garland Avenue and Children’s Way, approximately $5.7 million of MPU infrastructure upgrades/improvements.   
  • Along Kensington Drive, approximately $2.5 million of MPU infrastructure upgrades/improvements.   

“I’m proud to support the new bike/pedestrian vision for Jess Neely and appreciate Vanderbilt University’s significant investment in public infrastructure,” District 18 Councilman Tom Cash said. 

The city council will receive legislation in the coming weeks to begin the process, which will require continuous collaboration between Metro departments and Vanderbilt University over the next 18 months. 

For questions about this project contact Eben Cathey, Vanderbilt’s senior director for local government relations, at 615-426-1129 or