Questions remain over proposed rapid transit project - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Questions remain over proposed rapid transit project


The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority says its proposed rapid bus transit system, The Amp, will pave the way for a smoother commute, but opponents want to stop it.

And plenty of people still have questions about what the project might mean for the city and one of the city's busiest streets.

"I think it's one of the craziest ideas I've ever heard. Right now, look at the traffic out there: bunched up. You should see it from 3 o'clock on," said David Seeley, who manages a liquor store on West End Avenue.

MTA wants The Amp to connect West End with Five Points in east Nashville, but many are concerned with the prospect of changing traffic on that busy route.

"Unless you're going to decrease the traffic, and I don't know how you're going to do that, you are going to have a mess," Seeley said.

The project would eliminate some lanes and designate others for bus-only traffic. Opponents point to studies warning it could increase travel times for drivers.

But Ed Cole, who runs The Transit Alliance, considers that old research.

"My sense, without any hesitation on traffic congestion, is The Amp is an important part of the future strategy to reduce the impact of congestion," Cole said.

As for the cost, the total estimate stands at $175 million, with about $75 million coming from a federal grant and about $65 million from the city. Those funds would fall in the capital budget, requiring Metro Council's approval.

"That kind of money? Half the time the buses pull up, they're empty anyway," Seeley said.

And some wonder why the plan calls for the rapid transit on West End Avenue when they believe Charlotte Avenue would be a better route.

But, for now, the federal grant dictates the plan.

"People live there already. People work there already," Cole said. "Charlotte presents a wonderful opportunity for a next phase."

Opponents continue to urge the feds to deny the grant, but supporters may be rallying their own grassroots push.

"It's clearly not just pie-in-the-sky. I think this is real good food on the table," Cole said. "In not too much longer, I think we'll begin to see other signs showing up - even more broadly based than the 'Stop Amp' signs. And maybe those other signs will say, 'Hey, AMP, stop here,' which would be kind of a nice twist."

MTA will wrap up its grant application by the end of the month, and we should find out whether Nashville wins the federal money later this month.

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