The state Senate voted Thursday to throw a major wrench into Nashville’s proposed bus rapid transit line, known as the Amp.
The move to bar the Amp’s use of a dedicated center lane, jeopardizing crucial federal funding for the project, passed 27 to 4, with backing from several Nashville senators.
After the vote, opponents of the Amp gave thanks to the Arlington, Virginia-based national conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity. The group’s director in Tennessee, Andrew Ogles, argues the center lane design “defies logic.”
“We’re not against mass transit. I think in many circumstances it can be beneficial, but this project, as drawn, under the current fiscal environment, is just a bad idea.”
The bill is still on its way to a vote in the state House, where Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) opposes blocking the Amp’s use of the center lane. While she doesn’t favor its proposed route carving into her West End district, Harwell said she doesn’t want a new law to hand-tie the plans of Mayor Karl Dean.
Dr. Mike Schatzlein, chairman of the Amp Coalition and president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health, offered the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“While the outcome in the Senate was not unexpected, it is very disappointing. The Senate basically took a local project that has been in development for five years and voted on an amendment intended to kill it. The project is the first leg of a regional transit system, so this vote impacts all of Middle Tennessee. We believe the Senate’s actions represent an overreach of its legislative authority – transit solutions like these are best created on the local level.
“This is another step in a long process. The House is considering an amendment that would allow the local engineering design process for The Amp, Bus Rapid Transit system to continue, with appropriate legislative oversight. We’ll continue to work with House members to pass the House bill with that amendment intact because it allows local communities to manage growth and serve their residents, workers and visitors.”