Proposed AMP Bus Project Faces Possible Financial Hurdle - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Proposed AMP Bus Project Faces Possible Financial Hurdle

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Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell

By Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The proposed bus rapid transit program in Nashville, dubbed AMP, could face a financial hurdle at Tennessee's State Capitol.

The $174 million project would put a dedicated bus lane from St. Thomas West Hospital to the Five Points area in East Nashville.

Funding for the project would come from multiple sources. Mayor Karl Dean has proposed $75 million come from the federal government, $35 million would be needed from the state, $59 million of funding would come from the city, and the final $5 million would be paid by the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"I would find it very difficult to fully fund that project," said Speaker of the House Beth Harwell. "This is a tremendous amount of money for the City of Nashville to ask for."

The Republican lawmaker said transportation dollars are difficult to come by in the state budget.

"We have $8 billion worth of projects on hold, that we haven't funded and they are projects that have been on the books for a long time now," according to Harwell.

Friday, Mayor Dean released a statement in response to Harwell's comments on the AMP project.

"A decision on The Amp should only be made when you have all the facts and information. We are just this month beginning the intensive engineering that will answer questions about how this project will work on this major state route," the Mayor said.

Mayor Dean said finding solutions to Nashville's traffic issues is crucial to the city's future economic success.

"Already, we know that in the next few years, traffic congestion is going to grow in such a way that the busiest intersections will begin to fail on West End. That kind of congestion is unacceptable, bad for business, bad for the environment and bad for our quality of life," according to the Mayor.

Harwell applauded the Mayor for looking ahead and trying to find solutions to Nashville's transportation issues.

"Again, the Mayor studied this and seems to think it is, so I think there's definitely some pros, but from my prospective the con is the amount of money that is being requested of the state," said Speaker Harwell.

The Mayor said he is committed to making AMP work in Nashville.

"The easy decision would be to do nothing, but I was not elected to make easy decisions.  We are committed to moving forward. For our city and region to continue to be great, we need to have a great transit system," the Mayor said.

Mayor Dean said the success of AMP will be dependent on cooperation between federal, state and local lawmakers.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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