The first of four public meetings on the transportation system known as AMP were held in east Nashville Monday night.
Previously known as the East-West Connector, AMP is the bus rapid transit system (BRT) that will run a little more than seven miles, connecting Five Points in east Nashville to Broadway to West End and extending to the Saint Thomas area in west Nashville.
The project would change the way people get around Nashville. Proponents say it would protect quality of life and connect people to work, housing, entertainment and recreation.
They also argue, by doing that, the AMP would encourage economic and community development opportunities.
"The AMP is clearly one of the things the young people look for in a community these days and if we look at the other communities we compete with Austin, Charlotte and Denver, all those places they have mass transit and we're behind the ball on that," meeting attendee Cyril Stewart said.
The AMP was deemed necessary by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and other supporting transit groups because traffic is reportedly nearing capacity along Broadway and West End Avenue.
The idea quickly gained momentum and moved through Metro Council fairly easily, but the plan is not without controversy among those who live, work, or simply travel downtown.
A small grassroots group under the name BRT Concerns, Inc. has brought up a number of issues. With two dedicated bus lanes and two traffic lanes, many worry about delayed travel times from increased congestion. Others argue over the cost to taxpayers. Nearly two-thirds of the $174 million project is expected to be funded by federal and state dollars, leaving an estimated $65 million to be covered by local government.
"Drive on the West End at 4:45 and ask yourself what happens if we take away three lanes what would traffic be like whether I'm going to 40 24 or I'm going to 440? It's not going to be fun," Robert Hartline said.
Overall use is also a point of contention. Projections show ridership will increase 55% in five years, but those against the project don't believe that's enough to support such a large change to downtown transportation.
Those leading the way for AMP stress public input is needed to turn the concept into reality because nothing is definite outside of the route and the bus stops.
The scheduled public meetings are for finalize design and engineering plans. Attendees will be able to discuss everything from sidewalk design to business accessibility.
Dates and times for the January sessions, as provided by MTA, are as follows: