An amendment to Mayor Karl Dean’s capital-spending plan would require the Metro Transit Authority to study Charlotte Avenue as an alternate route for bus rapid transit.
Metro Councilman Josh Stites filed the amendment, which would tie the study to the $7.5 million in future engineering funding that Dean is seeking for The Amp, the bus rapid transit project that would run from the White Bridge Road area in West Nashville to East Nashville’s Five Points area. The funding Dean is requesting would only be available if and when the project is accepted by the federal government.
Stites said he wants to avoid focusing on the West End route without considering alternatives. Concern has cropped up in recent months as council members and community activists along Charlotte have suggested that corridor would be a better starting point for The Amp.
“My concern,” Sites said, “is we’re going to spend $7.5 million to consider the East-West connector down West End, and when they bring back the study and it’s going to say that it’s going to cause a lot of headaches, it’s going to cannibalize one of our main thoroughfares, but we think it’s good for Nashville to have rapid transit.”
Stites added, “[The] council is going to ask, ‘Did you look at other routes? Did you look at Charlotte? Did you look at Gallatin Road?’ And they’ll say ‘No, we just looked down West End.’ So the purpose of this amendment is to avoid that. So that they understand that the council’s intent — if the council in fact passes the amendment — is that we want to consider everything. We don’t just want tunnel vision going down West End.”
The mayor, along with transit officials, has insisted that West End is the only route capable of attracting federal support, because of the high density along the corridor and the potential for growth in ridership. Without federal funding, the project would be stalled.
Dean has said he hopes the initial project will be a starting point for an improved transit network around the city, including North Nashville, where some in the community have criticized the project as another civic investment that ignores low-income areas.
The council is set to vote on Dean’s $300 million capital spending plan Tuesday night.