Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Haslam: Nobody's Talked To Me About The Amp

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

So, if you're putting together a scorecard on The Amp, Mayor Dean's signature bus rapid transit project, it goes like this: the feds may or may not be in, the city is split and the Speaker of the House is leaning against it.

It might be good to have the governor's support if you want the $35 million that Metro will need the state to kick in on the project, right?

Well, word now comes down from the Hill, courtesy of our Andrea Zelinski, that the governor hasn't heard a thing from Metro about supporting The Amp.

"To date, nobody's really kind of come to us and said, 'Ok, here's how it would work, here's what we need you to do, here's the cost benefits to not just Metro Davidson, but also to the state,'" said Gov. Bill Haslam in a press availability after the latest round of budget hearings.

Here's a transcript of the Governor's remarks:

I think what the Speaker was saying — I shouldn't put words in her mouth — is the reality in terms of the state's funding, we have a long backlog. And while, regardless of The Amp's merits, it's going to have to compete with a lot — that's what I would say, I shouldn't put words in Beth's mouth at all — it's going to have to compete with a lot of other projects. And to date, nobody's really kind of come to us and said, 'Ok, here's how it would work, here's what we need you to do, here's the cost benefits to not just Metro Davidson but also to the state.'

So what are your thoughts then going forward? Are you supportive?

I welcome the conversation but I say that in light of the fact that it's going to have to compete with a lot of other — you saw what Commissioner Schroer said in terms of the backlog of projects. And we have a responsibility to the entire state.

So it doesn't get a thumbs up or down from you?

"No, because like I said, so far, nobody's brought anything to us. And I think that's what Mayor Dean said, he basically said 'Hey, it's too early for somebody to be saying, to come in with a final vote on that.' I think the Speaker was just saying in terms of her view, it just, it felt like in terms of competing with other priorities in this state, she didn't think that she saw that. Mayor Dean said 'Let's wait, I'd like the state to get all the information from us.' I think it's also significant it's going to take a lot of federal money and Congressman Cooper said given the current environment the federal money is probably a stretch as well.

Does Harwell saying 'no' color your view?

Sure. The speaker's from Nashville and obviously any time you have a project like this, one of the things that we do at TDOT is listen to local leadership, both their local elected officials but also the rep — the folks that represent that area, and obviously being the speaker, she has a lot of weight.

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