Bills designed to restrict rapid transit advance in legislature - WSMV News 4

Bills designed to restrict rapid transit advance in TN legislature

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The fight over the Amp rapid bus line through Nashville is spilling onto the steps of Capitol Hill, as Amp backers rallied against an effort by state lawmakers to hit the brakes Wednesday.

Lawmakers filed legislation that would essentially kill the costly and divisive transit project. It got a little complicated and was not necessarily the result the project's biggest supporters wanted.

"Your presence, just your presence - if you never say anything to anyone - the fact that you're here with your sticker on or your shirt on, your presence makes a big difference here," Ralph Schulz told fellow Amp supporters.

The group, wearing bright green shirts and stickers, piled into cramped committee rooms as House and Senate members took up bills that would require extensive approval for projects like the Amp from Metro Council and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The Senate version also limits the design, banning the center-lane concept sitting at the center of the $175 million idea.

"This is a good example of why government's not working. For example, on this issue, I've had no one discuss this project with me," said state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville. "This is a state highway that this project is being discussed on."

Both bills passed in their committees after minor changes.

Originally, Amp supporters expected amendments requiring the additional approval of the full General Assembly, perhaps precisely why mayors of the state's four largest cities wrote a letter to lawmakers in opposition.

That part of the bill, for now, disappeared. But it seems the fight has not.

"It looks like the legislature is meddling with Nashville," said state Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville. "We wouldn't do the same thing with Murfreesboro. We wouldn't do it with any of the rest of them."

Even though the bills received "yes" votes, a leading Amp proponent said he still considers it a mixed victory because the measures were changed.

Meanwhile, Amp opponents were at the Capitol as well, not only urging for those "yes" votes but also pitching a "plan B" concept for bus rapid transit which features a different route and curbside stops.

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