Metro Council to discuss funding for rapid transit system - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Metro Council to discuss funding for rapid transit system

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Mayor Karl Dean has long held public transportation as one of his top priorities. Soon, bus rapid transit could become a reality in Nashville - with time and a lot of money.

Metro Council will take up some of the funding for the project, called The Amp, at its meeting Tuesday evening.

But some people don't like the idea and plan to fight it.

Lunchtime traffic on West End Avenue proves a problem Jim McAteer can't wait to fix.

"This project just really kind of fits that need, so we're looking to the future," said McAteer, director of planning for the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The proposed bus rapid transit system would stretch more than seven miles from St. Thomas Hospital in west Nashville to the Five Points area on the east side.

Most of the time, the buses would run in a center lane designated only for The Amp.

However, for all the good it might do, residents like John Carnes wonder if removing lanes from an already busy road would really make for an easier commute.

"Doesn't make any sense to me," Carnes said. "There's incredible delays already. And this project is meant to inhibit people from driving their cars along the corridor and force people onto the bus. That's what their agenda is."

Some also worry about the cost, which is estimated at $174 million. Developers plan to apply for a massive federal grant, but Nashville would still pay tens of millions.

"We're trying to figure out how to solve the problems that are coming," McAteer said. "To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, 'If you fail to plan, plan to fail.' And we, as a city, are really trying hard to succeed."

Developers also point to statistics suggesting Nashville will add about 1 million people to its population by 2035, so they see this as one part of a long-term fix.

The mayor wants $7.5 million in the coming capital budget for design and engineering work. If it all happens, The Amp would open about three years from now.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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