State Funding For Nashville AMP Project Could Be In Jeopardy
By Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There is new controversy surrounding the proposed AMP bus rapid transit project in Nashville.
Wednesday afternoon State Senator Jim Tracy introduced a budget amendment in the Senate transportation committee that could eventually impact the AMP project.
"We use gas tax money to fund our roads across the State of Tennessee," Senator Tracy said.
He does not want state money to pay for bus rapid transit projects that use dedicated bus lanes. That is why he wanted to put stipulations on the proposed Tennessee Department of Transportation budget.
"This amendment just says you cannot use state funds on a state highway, with a separate lane for rapid transit service. That's all it does. I want to use the money for roads and bridges," the Senator explained.
Nashville's proposed AMP project would use separate, dedicated bus lanes. If Tracy's proposal were to pass, it could impact the $35 million city leaders would need from the State of Tennessee.
"We've always been clear, we don't plan to ask the state for funds until we feel like the project is in good enough shape," according to AMP spokeswoman Holly McCall.
City leaders believe any amendment for this coming budget year will not affect the project's funding.
"The budget amendment is limited to this year. We've always been clear we were not going to ask for money this year from the state. But I do think it's a petty political ploy to appease one of Senator Tracy's big donors," McCall said.
McCall said if the amendment is included during the budget cycle when Nashville does request state funding, it could affect the project.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat. We can do it without state funding. It means we will have to make some adjustments, probably. We will do value engineering, which is not uncommon on any large scale project," McCall said.
AMP needs $75 million from the federal government to help fund the project. Right now that is the biggest concern for city leaders. If they cannot secure that money, the AMP project most likely will not happen.