Thursday, November 14, 2013

If the Mayor's Office Has Spoken To You About The Amp, Please Stand Up

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 9:46 AM

My column in this week's issue is on The Amp's crash with an apparent road block at the state level, from which Mayor Karl Dean is seeking $35 million.

But as these things tend to do, the story is developing faster than the speed of print.

Essentially, after Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said last week that she didn't think the state should fund the project, it became evident that while the mayor's office had failed to convince Harwell of the project's merits, they had apparently failed to even try with others. State Sen. Steve Dickerson, for instance, a Nashville Republican, said he hasn't even heard from the mayor's office or Metro about The Amp. (He has heard, however, from dozens of constituents who want him to stop it.)

Ditto Bill Haslam. Yesterday, the governor sounded as if he's gotten the chopped-liver treatment too.

"...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,'" he told reporters.

In our dead-tree pages this week, Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson says that Metro hasn't made a formal funding request, but that they've been in close contact with engineers at the state Department of Transportation.

"We expect to make a funding request once we are further along the design phase so that TDOT will have more information about the project and how it will work along what is a state route," Johnson says.

At the federal level, Congressman Jim Cooper tells the Scene that he supports The Amp, but still has doubts about the availability of funding.

“Yes, I support the Amp," Cooper said in an emailed statement. "I am the only member of the Tennessee delegation who signed the project-support letter last year and who offered to sign it this year. But the state and federal governments are having a hard time funding existing projects, let alone new ones. Speaker Harwell’s opposition to the project bodes ill for the required state funding. But if the money is available, Nashville is a great city for the investment.”

Securing support from the Metro Council, which will be asked to approve $51.5 million in local funding as part of Dean's 2014-2015 capital spending plan, would seem to be the easiest piece of the puzzle. But will The Amp even get that far?

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