Community raises concerns over proposed bus rapid transit - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Community raises concerns over proposed bus rapid transit

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Some consider the proposed bus rapid transit system called The AMP a key part to the city's future, but others consider it a waste.

Now, a third group has stepped forward with some key demands of the city's plans.

"It's not going to be 'Nashville Next' if we don't include everybody," said Nell Levin, with the Tennessee Alliance for Progress.

The Transit Alliance and Mayor Karl Dean support the plan for a 7.1-mile bus rapid transit system to connect St. Thomas Hospital in west Nashville to 5 Points in east Nashville with stops along the way.

"It's not just for Nashville. This project will be a base hub for regional mass transit," said Ed Cole, with the Transit Alliance.

People who live in and support north Nashville gathered downtown Tuesday not to oppose the project but to demand their fair share.

"When you have a community where the poverty rate is 44 percent, with unemployment being sometimes around as high as 28 percent in some of our communities - and they simply cannot speak for themselves - as a result, the movers and shakers of this city, it's just an invisible community. They tend to overlook them," said state Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville.

More than a stop along The AMP's route, advocates want a Community Benefit Agreement to require local jobs, investment and accountability.

"As this city becomes the 'It City,' and all this money is coming into Nashville, we have to make sure the money is equitably distributed and that the neighborhoods that are traditionally left behind and overlooked are not overlooked again," Levin said.

That could be an issue. The project relies on federal funding, and with that come federal rules on bids and spending.

Those backing The AMP promised Tuesday the project would eventually benefit every part of the city.

"There'll be extensions. If this first phase is successful, and I think all of us feel it will be - assuming we get federal funding - then that will prove to all of us and to Nashville and the region that this is a really cool mass transit option for us," Cole said.

The city will soon begin the work to finalize the design of The AMP. It will submit a formal application to the Federal Transit Administration in the fall.

And if it succeeds, the project will take about three years to complete.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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