Nashville Mayor Insists Federal $75M For New Bus Line Not Out Of Reach

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean spoke at a ribbon-cutting for the new Music City Center an hour before his "State of Metro" address. Credit Daniel Potter/WPLN

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean spoke at a ribbon-cutting for the new Music City Center an hour before his “State of Metro” address. Credit Daniel Potter/WPLN

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean insists a planned bus-rapid transit system known as the Amp can get federal funding, despite doubts from the city’s Congressman.  Last week Rep. Jim Cooper’s office said it could be tough to get the federal $75 million the Amp’s fate is riding on.

Mayor Dean used his “State of Metro” address to argue there’s no reason the speedy bus line can’t get funding.  Saying Nashville doesn’t want to be left behind, he pointed to other cities that succeeded last week in getting the Federal Transit Administration’s backing:

“They included places like Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sacramento, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota; which received $93 million dollars.  These cities are not our direct competitors.  These are not places like Austin and Charlotte who we get compared to every day, and who are already ahead of us when it comes to mass transit.  If St. Paul can do it, we can – and should – too.”

Dean was speaking at Nashville’s new million-square-foot convention center.  He says as the area around Music City Center grows, a 15 minute commute will double to a half-hour, underscoring his case for mass transit.

When his office was reached for comment, Rep. Cooper offered this statement:

“I’m a longtime supporter of Mayor Dean and public transit, and I am glad that the Mayor’s staff is working very hard on easing traffic congestion in Nashville. I do have concerns over whether the federal government will have the money to fund it, but that’s not Nashville’s fault. Federal budget problems and sequestration are delaying or halting many projects nationwide.”

Cutting the ribbon

Before his official address Dean cut the ribbon on downtown’s new Music City Center.

Beaming officials bragged the massive construction project wrapped up ahead of schedule, and just booked its millionth room night.  Convention Center Authority Chair Marty Dickens says it will draw people in from all over to enrich Nashville:

“And it makes it even more wonderful that this is a building that’s paid for by people who earn their money somewhere else, come here, spend it, go home and all along the way they’re helping our economy and creating jobs for our citizens.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

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