Stop Amp, meet your foe: Amp Yes!
The Movers and Shakers convened at Bridgestone Arena this morning to launch the Amp Coalition, in support of Mayor Karl Dean's proposed $175 million bus rapid transit project connecting East and West Nashville.
Headlining the event, along with the mayor, were Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health, Kenya Stevens, board member for Transit Now, and Thomas "Freddie" O'Connell, a board member for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. They touted what they claim is broad public support, and pitched The Amp as the way to stem the coming tide of increased congestion in the city.
"What is so hard to really get your mind around," said Schatzlein, "is that while what we're experiencing on West End today is bad, we can't count on the status quo continuing. It's going to get exponentially worse. There will be a lot more occasions in the coming years where cars will sit through multiple stop lights without moving. If you ride the regular bus, you're going to be sitting in those same traffic jams."
Stevens, of Transit Now, repeated one of the primary arguments made by proponents of The Amp, saying she believes that it will expand transit ridership. She also had the honor of unveiling the coalition's green yard sign — which reads Amp Yes! — which the group hopes will act as a counter-agent to the red Stop Amp signs that have popped up all over the Richland-West End neighborhood, in West Nashville.
Dean hammered the idea that now is the time to invest in transit, because the status quo is not an option. He also framed the project as the next logical step for a city on the rise.
"If we want Nashville to stay on top, we have to keep our eye on the future," he said. "Because a city can't move forward, in any regard, by just blindly hanging on to the status quo."
A release from the coalition lists the heavy-hitter members of its 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 Matthews, president, The Matthews 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 Health Analytics