TN Senate approves bill aimed at derailing AMP project - WSMV News 4

TN Senate approves bill aimed at derailing AMP project

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Tennessee lawmakers have surged ahead with their efforts to block the AMP rapid bus line proposed to run through the heart of Nashville.

State senators voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a bill that specifically bans buses that stop in the center lane, a key feature of the AMP project.

The proposed rapid bus transit line would run from West End to East Nashville and would cost the city about $51 million, with other funding needed from the state and federal government.

"The way this is going, it's not going to work," said State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

Tracy, who sponsored the Senate bill, says safety is a top concern.

"We looked at the federal Department of Transportation, their transit division. They said if you have a lane in the middle of the road, then it causes congestion problems. It also is a safety issue because people are walking across," Tracy said.

The Senate's bill would prohibit local and transit authorities from keeping lanes on a state highway dedicated solely for rapid transit. It will also prohibit AMP from loading and unloading passengers in the center lane of traffic, which is exactly what AMP is designed to do.

"This bill allows you to drop off on the right hand side of the road for safety reasons and congestion reasons," Tracy said.

The Metro Transit Authority, which has pushed for the AMP, disagrees with Tracy's safety concerns.

"Senator Tracy, with all due respect, is not an engineer. People cross streets every single day, and there is absolutely nothing that shows that boarding at the center is any more unsafe than boarding at the curbs or taking a bus on the opposite side of the street. You still have to cross the street," said MTA spokesperson Holly McCall.

State Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, was the only Nashville senator who voted against the bill and in support of the AMP. She said she sees this as a Nashville issue, not a state issue.

"The people of Nashville should be the ones to decide," she said. "Allow the people to decide what's going on in their city."

The House version of the bill does not have the center lane restriction. It instead focuses more on funding.

Eventually, both chambers would have to agree on a single bill. The Senate version of the legislation comes up for a vote in the House next week.

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