Friday, April 11, 2014

Mayor's AMP Advisory Committee stacked to produce a predictable outcome.

Seeing the writing on the wall from the state legislature that the AMP was in serious trouble, earlier
this week the Mayor announced a new design for the AMP that would remove dedicated lanes from the portion of the AMP route that lies between I-440 and St. Thomas Hospital. He also announced the creation of an AMP citizens advisory committee. Below is a portion of the mayor's press release about the new advisory committee. The highlighting is mine.

“This Advisory Committee brings to the table varying viewpoints, and that was the goal we set out to achieve,” Mayor Dean said. “I want to thank the local and state representatives who helped us appoint people who live or work near the route to serve on the committee, and I look forward to hearing the Committee’s recommendations on how to make this vital transit project work for Nashville.”
In addition to appointments being made by State Representatives, State Senators and Metro Council Members whose districts sit along the route, Mayor Dean appointed several Committee members who represent constituencies impacted by the project, including people with disabilities, the aging population and large employers.
Mayor Dean appointed Bert Mathews, of the Mathews Company and Colliers International, to serve as chairman of the Advisory Committee. House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) appointed attorney and West Nashville resident Dianne Neal and businessman Lee Beaman.
Subsequent to the April 29 meeting, the Committee will meet the last Tuesday of every month.
The Amp Citizens Advisory Committee was formed based on geographic and stakeholder diversity across the route. It is a nonpartisan, advisory body that will provide regular feedback and recommendations to the Amp engineers at Nashville MTA throughout the Final Design phase of the project. It will also serve as a vehicle for MTA to share information on a more regular basis about the Amp design with the community that each member represents.
The Committee includes merchants, property owners, neighborhood representatives, business leaders and other stakeholders interested in improving mass transit options in Nashville, both along the route and throughout the greater Nashville region.
Members of the Amp Citizens Advisory Committee include:
  • CHAIR: Bert Mathews, The Mathews Company and Colliers International, and West Nashville resident
  • Tina Banks, General Manager, Mapco Store 1033 on Main Street in East Nashville
  • Joe Barker, MarketStreet Enterprises and developer in the Gulch
  • Lee Beaman, Beaman Automotive
  • Arnett Bodenhamer, Retired Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army and North Nashville business owner (Arnett & Associates)
  • Drake Calton, Retired Financial Advisor and resident of Richland neighborhood
  • Laura Denison, Registered Nurse, Alive Hospice and Hillsboro/West End resident
  • Beth Fortune, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Vanderbilt University
  • Richard Fulton, Colliers International and West Nashville resident
  • Tricia Griggs, Senior Disability Rights Advocate, Disability Law & Advocacy Center
  • Barrett Hobbs, Cumberland Hospitality Group and Lower Broadway business owner
  • Coralee Holloway, Director of Community Programs, Tennessee Housing Development Agency and East Nashville resident
  • Mina Johnson, Community Volunteer and West Nashville resident
  • Lewis Lavine, President, Center for Nonprofit Management and chair of the MTA Board Amp Committee
  • Cliff Lippard, Public Policy Researcher/Deputy Executive Director, Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, State of Tennessee; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University; and member of Transit Now
  • Dianne Neal, Attorney; Instructor of Law; and West Nashville resident
  • David Plummer, Architect, Centric Architecture and Hillsboro/West End resident
  • Mike Schatzlein, President and CEO, St. Thomas Health
  • Ralph Schulz, President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Alan Sparkman, Executive Director, Tennessee Concrete Association and AARP advocate
  • Patricia Totty, North Nashville resident
  • Mary Vavra, Landscape Architect and Planner, Lose & Associates and East Nashville resident
  • Chris Veit, Senior Designer, H2U-Health to You and Sylvan Park resident
  • Ben Vos, Mental Health Counselor and East Nashville resident
The Committee will include ex-officio members representing Tennessee Department of Transportation, Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Nashville MTA, Metro Public Works and Metro Planning Department.
Notice that among the people on the list only three of them are identified critics of the AMP. The rest are advocates, insiders and friends of the mayor. I do think the redesign is a significant improvement but I still think it is the wrong route. I wish we would go back to the drawing board and rethink the whole thing.

I would like to suggest a route from downtown out 2nd Ave and 4th Ave, to Nolensville Rd to Harding Place, and maybe on to Old Hickory, including a bridge over the railroad tracks south of Chestnut Street. The railroad creates lengthy delays at times and is an obstacle to downtown connectivity and this part of town.  Out this route lies the Fairgrounds and the Nashville zoo.  These attractions could draw more tourist if easily connected to downtown. This part of town is home to many immigrates and low income people who often have only one car or no car in their household and this area is ripe for development. With proper land use planning we could see considerable development around each stop along the route. The area along 2nd and 4th could blossom as a close-in urban community. This route could relieve congestion on I-65 and I-24.

I am sure there are other routes that also have their attributes. Maybe we should not have a BRT at all and instead spend money to upgrade the existing bus service.  In any event, with only three AMP critics on the advisory committee, I expect the mayor's revised plan to be the recommended plan of the committee. The deck is stacked.

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