The AMP, a plan to create a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route for the West End corridor, will more than double traffic delays for commuters traveling by automobile.
According to a report entitled The AMP Final Engineering Design Services, traffic at the corner of Bowling and West End would increase from the current average wait time of 117 seconds to 487 seconds. In other words, commuters will go from waiting less than two minutes at the light to 8 minutes. Idling traffic pollutes at more than four times the current rate.
AMP supporters claim it would improve travel time through the West End corridor. They say, if they build it, people will ride it. This assumption is only true based on the working theory that more people would take the bus, not because they want to, but because of increased congestion.
Forecasted traffic congestion caused by AMP will force motorists to choose between an incredibly long and unpredictable commute by car, or walking a long distance to a bus station and riding the bus, then walking to another bus or to the final destination.
None of the above-mentioned auto delays factor in the additional delays of getting onto West End from side streets. By putting bus stations in the middle of the road, many current intersections will be cut off, requiring drivers to take alternate routes and funneling them onto fewer roads that cross West End.
Most shocking is the actual “Preliminary Engineering Plans” obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request. Under the new plan, the AMP lanes will run in the center of the corridor, replacing the current turning lanes. Harding and part of West End will have narrowed travel lanes only 10 feet wide, plus a turning lane that is only 9 feet wide. That forces emergency vehicles, tractor trailers and delivery trucks that are over 10′ wide to travel in lanes narrower than their mirror-to-mirror measurements. There will be no room for them to swing wide to make right hand turns.
Farther down West End, one of three auto lanes in each direction will be removed and given to AMP. This will have the same chilling effect of extreme auto traffic delays further west. On bridges over interstates, AMP will share a single lane with itself, leaving two through lanes in each direction, allowing no room for error.
And what happens if there is a traffic accident? In some sections there are no turning lanes. With the reduced lane width, it will be nearly impossible to navigate around accidents involving two cars side by side. For an accident on a bridge, AMP traffic in both directions must stop to allow emergency vehicles through. Emergency vehicles then stop in the AMP lane to rescue the injured taxpayers. When an ambulance leaves St. Thomas eastbound, the eastbound AMP would have to stop service at its Bosley Springs station. Westbound AMP service would have to stop prior to getting on the I-440 bridge. Eastbound auto traffic and AMP traffic must remain halted, until the emergency scene is cleared. Eastbound I-440 entry ramp traffic will halt, as will the westbound entry onto I-440 from the eastbound lanes.
AMP proponents claim emergency vehicle response time will improve since they will share the center lanes with the buses. They claim the ambulances would simply jump the curb. This leads to the obvious question of, what happens to the thousands of dollars worth of equipment on the ambulances as it does its off-roading? How much additional injury could a patient suffer enroute to the hospital?
So the question remains, why does the Mayor want AMP? The price tag for this project is currently estimated at $174 million, but that is before acquiring Park & Rides and easements.
Jennifer Pennington from the group “Stop Amp” is our special guest on the podcast this week. Listen in as she raises those questions and other secrets the city doesn’t want you to know about the AMP. Visit stopamp.org and brtconcerns.info