State officials have been reluctant to commit funding for Nashville’s planned transit line connecting East Nashville and West End. But the federal agency being asked to pay for the largest chunk of the project says the state needs to be involved.
This is a $175 million bus rapid transit line. Of the federal, state and local governments, the state is being asked to kick in the smallest portion – $35 million.
The Amp – as it has been dubbed – will be going head to head for grant money from the Federal Transit Administration. And FTA chief Peter Rogoff says state involvement would give Nashville’s crosstown connector a leg up.
“It certainly helps the competitiveness of that project,” he says. “And frankly, states do need to invest in transit. Our state investment cannot just be a state highway program. And that is especially apparent in cities like this one.”
Rogoff cites the anticipated population growth of another million people by 2035 as reason to act proactively on mass transit.
“The notion that somehow the cities can finance it all by themselves really isn’t realistic,” he says.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has been the lead cheerleader for the BRT line. He’s gotten help from the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, headed by Ed Cole.
Cole previously worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation and says he understands TDOT’s hesitation on signing off.
“It’s sort of natural that the state is looking long and hard at this right now,” he says.
State officials have to consider that money spent on the Amp is likely money taken away from a road project elsewhere in the state, Cole says.