Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lower Broad Ruins It For Another Mode of Public Transportation

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 5:30 AM

So, way back in 1905, our state legislature passed a law segregating Nashville's streetcars. As Tom Wood told us back in his Nashville Post days:

The streetcar companies didn't actually want segregation. It would cost money to maintain, they said. There was no pressing need for it. And some drivers were threatening to quit rather than "discriminate against colored people." But the General Assembly, displaying its usual wisdom, decreed that all public transportation must be segregated — effective this week in 1905, right after the Fourth of July.

In response, some prominent African American Nashvillians got together and started the Union Transportation Co., a blacks-only streetcar line. It had some racist problems — white streetcar companies sabotaged their batteries and the city taxed the shit out of them (but I'm sure we're very sorry for that now). But a significant problem it had was that the cars struggled to get up the Broadway hill. People couldn't get places on time and the company folded (though the preceding boycott provided a lot of foundational work for the boycotters' Civil Rights era grandchildren).

That hill is still a significant problem. Last week, it was reported that the Amp route was moving to avoid it. From the Tennessean:

Mark Sturtevant, the Amp’s project manager, said the primary reason for the shift was that the slope of the road made it hard to build a stop that was handicap accessible.

“We had wanted to have an iconic ‘gateway to Lower Broad’ station at 5th Avenue and Broadway, but there is really no way to build one there in a way that is both safe and cost-effective,” Sturtevant said in a news release. “The 10 percent grade on the slope at that intersection is tough to work with. So we’ve moved to a route that works better to accommodate a station.”

Broadway claims another victim. I'm a little sad I won't be here in 2105 to see what that hill screws up next.

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