by Steven Hale
As expected, the Metro Council last night approved Mayor Karl Dean's $300 million capital spending plan without making any changes. The plan included $7.5 million for final design and engineering on the proposed bus rapid transit project, the Amp.
That probably won't end the debate about the chosen route for the Amp — along the West End corridor — but it will render it effectively moot. On the way to giving its first stamp of approval to the Amp as proposed, the council balked at opportunities to require a study on the feasibility of alternative routes, such as Charlotte Avenue, or to remove BRT funds from the Capital Improvement Budget altogether, which would have stopped the Amp in its, er, tracks.
If the project comes to fruition — which will require federal funds and future council approval of local funding — it will be on West End. What's left for community members and council members along Charlotte Avenue, who have raised questions about and objections to the project, is to push for additional transit upgrades on that corridor — Dean has told council members and the media that he'd be open to implementing a BRT-lite line on Charlotte, a la Gallatin Pike, sooner than later — and to lobby for a Community Benefit Agreement, which North Nashville activists and council members say would spread the benefits of the project to lower-income areas.