Shutdown Won’t Deter Nashville From Seeking Federal Money For Bus Project

Metro hopes to start construction next year for the $174M bus project, with dedicated lanes from Five Points in East Nashville through downtown to White Bridge Road in West End. Image credit Metro Transit Authority

Metro hopes to start construction next year for the $174M bus project, with dedicated lanes from Five Points in East Nashville through downtown to White Bridge Road in West End. Image credit Metro Transit Authority

Nashville officials say the government shutdown won’t slow federal consideration of a proposed bus rapid transit system called the Amp.

Nashville is competing with other cities in hopes of winning the federal max, $75 million—a bit less than half the bus project’s planned total cost.  Reviewing and refining the application will take a long back-and-forth with the Federal Transit Administration.  The Metro Transit Authority’s Jim McAteer says the federal shutdown won’t delay the process, because the FTA hired consultants to keep it moving.

“Actually, they were anticipating it, and contacting us in advance early and letting us know that if they were shut down, they would have some consultants available to review the information, and in fact we have already heard from those consultants.”

Officials also said the proposed route does not hinge on some 2,000 HCA workers expected to occupy a planned facility  on West End.  Work at that site has stalled, but transit officials say whether the project happens or not won’t affect their proposed route from East Nashville through downtown to West End.

State Funding Not Locked In

Officials are hoping, but not certain, to get some 20 percent of the project’s funding from the state.  For the application’s purposes, McAteer says the state’s share is left up in the air.

“Basically our application at this point says we don’t have a firm commitment from the state, but we’re meeting with them as we go through the final design, and they’re understanding the project, and they have questions they’ve been asking us, so we’ll move forward with that approach.”

Certain details of the bus line, including its final price tag, are not locked in, and McAteer stressed it might end up costing less.  Still, if the state money doesn’t come through, it may fall to the Metro counsel to make up for it.

Officials hope to break ground on the project next year.

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