Via Pith, a compromise has taken banning center lanes off of the table, but Mayor Karl Dean's signature bus rapid transit project will still need approval from the General Assembly if it has any form of dedicated lane.
As for the final legislation pertaining to The Amp, Turner said it's bad, but better than the original Senate language that would have effectively killed the project as it's currently proposed.
"I'm not comfortable with the deal, no, because I think we're stepping in — we've set a precedent here," he said. "And I think it's going to get very burdensome for the state to have to do this if we starting having to approve individual projects across the state like that. It's worked fine the way we do it. They say this is a new type of project, of course that's not what this is about, this is a political thing. This is the best thing for Metro Nashville, best thing we could've done. It's the compromise we ended up with."
Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health Services and chair of the Amp Coalition, had the following to say this afternoon:
“We are satisfied with the outcome in the General Assembly today. This bill clearly defines approval levels of local and state participation in the transit project process. We look forward to our continued involvement in planning for Middle Tennessee’s urgent and growing transit needs. The Amp Coalition will stay committed to educating the community and region about the benefits of The Amp as the first step in a Middle Tennessee transit strategy.”
Mayor Karl Dean this morning threw his weight behind recommendations from consulting firm Parson Brinckerhoff to go with bus rapid transit over streetcars for the busy West End/downtown corridor. The cost of building out a two-lane line through East Nashville's Five Points area would be $136 million, less than half that of a similar streetcar plan.
Metro installed a light BRT system on East Nashville’s Gallatin Avenue in 2009. Under consideration for Broadway-West End is a more sophisticated BRT version in which buses would occupy lanes exclusively.
Paul Skoutelas, transit market director of Parsons Brinckerhoff, said consultants explored four options for the east-west corridor: doing nothing, light rail, a streetcar and BRT. He said consultants emphasized finding an option that could begin operating within a short timeframe.
Two steering committees will be formed. A Technical Advisory Committee is to include representatives of MTA, the Metro Planning Department, the Nashville Area Metro Planning Organization, Metro Public Works Department and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. A Corridor Steering Committee is to include local businesses, organizations and other stakeholders.
“The Hamilton Springs proposal is a great example of community and economic development around mass transit,” noted Michael Skipper, director of the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is responsible for planning and prioritizing projects for federal funds. “Hamilton Springs has the opportunity to be a trendsetter for the region in delivering a more sustainable way of living for a growing number of Middle Tennesseans - without asking them to sacrifice affordability, convenience, or prosperity.If recommended by the commission next week, the project is scheduled to go to the Lebanon City Council on Feb. 1 for first reading.