Haslam Tour to Promote Transportation-Infrastructure Funding Continues

Press Release from the Office of Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Aug. 20, 2015:

Governor visiting 15 communities to hear about local opportunities and challenges

SHELBYVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer sat down with local and state officials in Shelbyville today to discuss the region’s transportation and infrastructure needs.

In an afternoon meeting at the Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce, Haslam and Schroer discussed the functionality and capacity of Tennessee’s state roads and highways, safety issues around roads and bridges, and the impact infrastructure has on economic development efforts in urban and rural communities.

Tennessee’s transportation system includes 95,000 miles of roads, 1,100 miles of interstates, 19,000 bridges, 28 transit systems in 95 counties, 79 general aviation airports, 949 miles of waterways and more than 3,000 miles of railroads.

“The quality of Tennessee’s transportation and infrastructure system always ranks at or near the top when compared to the rest of the country,” Haslam said. “We have no transportation debt, and we do a great job maintaining our roads, but we know we have challenges on the horizon. We know that we can’t depend on the federal government to be the funding partner that it once was. We also know that as our infrastructure ages, maintenance becomes more important and more expensive. And we know that maintaining our roads is only part of the equation. Right now we have a multi-billion dollar backlog of highway projects across this state that address key access, safety and economic development issues, and that’s only going to grow.”

A 2015 Tennessee Comptroller’s report on transportation funding states that revenues are not expected to be sufficient to maintain current infrastructure.

Cars are more fuel-efficient, construction and labor costs have risen, and Congress hasn’t passed a long-term transportation funding bill in a decade. Tennessee’s population is expected to grow by 2 million by 2040, which puts a greater demand on the state’s infrastructure.

“TDOT is responsible for taking care of the assets we already have, for implementing current projects in the most cost-effective way, and for planning for the state’s infrastructure needs of the future,” Schroer said. “We look to Tennessee communities to help prioritize projects to make sure we’re addressing evolving traffic patterns, population growth, safety issues, and the many other things that impact our infrastructure, and these conversations are invaluable to the process.”

Since 2010 TDOT has invested $101 million state dollars on first and last mile road projects serving industrial expansion and recruitment helping to create nearly 29,000 jobs for 108 companies in Tennessee.

Funded primarily by state and federal gas taxes, TDOT gets no money from the General Fund. Funding uncertainty from the Federal Highway Trust Fund forced TDOT to delay $400 million in highway projects in 2015.

TDOT officials discussed the cost of several projects in the region:

Two widening projects are in Bedford County on US-41A (SR-16). Phase 1 is from SR-64 east of Shelbyville to Jenkins Road. Phase 2 is from Jenkins Road to Thompson Creek Road (SR-276). The estimated cost of completion for Phase 1 is $13.4 million, and the estimated cost for Phase 2 is $21.8 million.

In Lewisburg, a new alignment project on SR-50 from Franklin Pike (US 431/SR-106) to Veronica Avenue (US-31A, SR-11) has an estimated cost of completion of $14.6 million.

In Rutherford County, there are three phases of a widening project on New Salem Highway (SR-99). Phase 1 is from Cason Lane to I-24, Phase 2 is from I-24 to SR-96, and Phase 3 is from SW Loop Road to Cason Lane. The estimated cost of completion on the three phases is $35.8 million.

A widening project on Bradyville Pike (SR-99) from SE Broad Street (US-41/SR-2) to Rutherford Boulevard has an estimated cost of completion of $6 million.

A widening project on SR-268 from SR-1 (US-41/70S) to SR-10 in Rutherford County has an estimated cost of completion of $25.6 million.

In addition to Shelbyville, Haslam has held transportation and infrastructure discussions in Memphis, Clarksville, Jackson, Nashville, Franklin, Kingsport, Greeneville and Murfreesboro, and he will visit Crossville, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Lenoir City, Knoxville and Union City in the coming weeks.