NASHVILLE, TN — A group of community and business leaders came together today to launch the community wide Amp Coalition, which will support a long-term rapid transit strategy for the Nashville region, beginning with the proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) line – the Amp – which will connect East and West Nashville.
“Nashville is a vibrant and growing metropolitan area, and with that growth come challenges in making it possible for people to get where they need to go,” said Dr. Mike Schatzlein, chief executive officer of Saint Thomas Health, who will serve as chairman of the coalition. “We have an opportunity to address our transportation needs before today’s traffic problems turn into tomorrow’s gridlock. The Amp is the right first step in the transit solution for Nashville. If we take this step now, we can keep our city moving.”
Unlike other transit service currently offered in the area, Amp vehicles will travel, not in traffic with other vehicles, but in dedicated lanes, allowing them to move at a fast pace, no matter how fast traffic is moving. The Amp will cover a 7.1-mile route that runs through the heart of Nashville – from Five Points in East Nashville through downtown to the Saint Thomas West hospital campus in West Nashville. The Amp will provide an alternative for car traffic on the West End corridor, which is projected to experience a dramatic increase in volume and congestion in the next three to five years. After several years of study and review, the Metropolitan Transit
Authority recommended a BRT line with dedicated lanes in the West End-Main Street corridor as the preferred option because it provides all of the benefits of high-capacity transit without the high infrastructure costs. The Amp is projected to cost approximately $175 million, while light rail along the same route would cost more than $1 billion. The coalition is being formed in order to raise awareness of the benefits of the proposed Amp and to win support for the creation of a larger rapid transit system for the Middle Tennessee region, which is projected to see almost 1 million new residents move to this region by 2035 – making it about the size that the Denver area is today.
“Nashville is a great city because it’s a city that keeps growing while maintaining its quality of life,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “People want to be here and businesses want to be here because Nashville finds ways to address its challenges in a cost-effective and efficient way. The East-West corridor through downtown is the ‘Main Street’ of this region – it is the strategic spine of Nashville’s transit system – so it makes sense that the first leg of our new system will start there. The Amp is the right first step in developing Nashville’s transit solution that keeps us competitive for the future.”
The Amp Coalition steering committee is composed of community leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Individuals and businesses that would like to join the coalition are urged to contact Kathleen Coffen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I applaud the business community and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for bringing together an impressive group of coalition members to show the strong community support that exists for The Amp,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “Whenever Nashvillians are faced with a choice about the direction the city should take, more often than not we choose the right path – the path of progress. The Amp Coalition will be an important and active voice in support of the type of progress we need with mass transit to ensure Nashville can continue to move forward.”
The coalition will begin distributing supporting materials in the coming days, and has created a website, www.ampyes.org, that will provide information about the project and opportunities to join the effort to move it forward.
The Amp Coalition Steering Committee:
Chairman, Dr. Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health Vice Chairman, Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Steering Committee Members:
Ed Cole, executive director, Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee Beth Fortune, vice-chancellor for public affairs, Vanderbilt University Henry Hicks, general partner, Red Clay Capital Holdings, LLC Keel Hunt, president and founder, The Strategy Group Lewis Lavine, president and CEO, Center for Nonprofit Management Bert Mathews, president, The Mathews Company/partner, Colliers International Juli Mosley, retired, Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Ron Samuels, chairman and CEO, Avenue Bank Randy Rayburn, owner, Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe, Cabana Butch Spyridon, president and CEO, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Holley West, vice president of corporate communications, Applied.