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TDOT Suspending Highway Construction for Memorial Day Weekend

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; May 23, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Road construction won’t slow motorists down as they travel Tennessee’s highways this Memorial Day weekend. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state routes beginning at 12:00 noon on Friday, May 25 through 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 29. This will provide maximum roadway capacity for motorists expected to travel in the state this Memorial Day weekend.

“Halting road construction during this busy holiday weekend will minimize congestion and delays on Tennessee’s interstates, said Commissioner John Schroer. “We want to keep traffic flowing so everyone can have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.”

Motorists will still encounter some lane closures on long term construction projects. Drivers should be aware that reduced speed limits will be in effect in work zones. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway. Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of up to $500, plus court fees and possible increased insurance premiums.

“Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer and we want everyone to arrive at their destination safely,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “If you’re traveling this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to buckle up and avoid distractions inside your vehicle.”

AAA estimates 34.8 million people will travel more than 50 miles this Memorial Day holiday, reflecting a slight nationwide increase of 1.2% from 2011. Of this number, AAA predicts nine out of ten travelers will travel by car. In Tennessee, AAA projects 613,327 will travel by automobile and 58,168 by air, which is a 1.5% increase over Tennessee’s 2011 travel numbers.

Updated travel and construction information can be found on the TDOT SmartWay website at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or you may call 5?1?1. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can use the TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Summer Construction Coming on TN Roads

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; April 23, 2012:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation is joining states across the nation to remind motorists not to barrel through work zones. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will spread that message statewide during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 23-27) in an effort to improve safety in Tennessee’s interstate and highway construction and maintenance work zones.

“We are heading into the busiest construction time of the year, and there will be hundreds of active work zones across Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Reducing speeds, staying alert, and exercising caution is the best way to ensure workers and motorists stay safe on our roadways.”

The spring and summer months provide perfect weather for highway work, and motorists will encounter work zones across Tennessee in downtowns, along interstates and in rural areas. Highway work zones can change frequently, making it even more important to pay attention to the road. Last year in Tennessee, fifteen people died in work zone crashes, twelve were either drivers or vehicle passengers, and three were construction workers.

“I was deeply saddened by the loss of two TDOT employees’ last year,” added Commissioner Schroer. These tragedies are sobering reminders of the hazards our highway workers face each and every day. I urge all motorists to remember highway crews are working to improve our roads to make your future commute better.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation to date has lost 108 employees in the line of duty, most recently, two employees in 2011. TDOT HELP Operator Robert Nowicki was killed while assisting a motorist on Interstate 55 in West Memphis on June 20, 2011 and Highway Maintenance Worker Michael Dalton was killed setting up a work zone on Interstate 40 in Shelby County on September 8, 2011.

Each of TDOT’s regions will draw attention to Work Zone Awareness Week in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville by lighting several buildings across the state in orange. TDOT will also honor the workers who lost their lives by placing a remembrance plaque in their Regional Offices during Work Zone Awareness Week. Work zone safety messages will also be displayed on TDOT’s overhead Dynamic Message Signs on interstates in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville. TDOT has put together a video about the importance of work zone safety; the video can be seen here on TDOT’s YouTube page: http://youtu.be/j8cC9l3RFpM

Updated travel and construction information can be found on the TDOT SmartWay website at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or you may call 5?1?1. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can use the TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go!by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

TDOT Suspends Interstate Construction for Easter Holiday Traffic

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; April 4, 2012:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation will suspend all interstate construction work this Easter weekend in anticipation of increased holiday travel.

TDOT crews and contractors will stop all road construction work that requires lane closures beginning Thursday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, April 9 at 6:00 a.m. This will provide maximum roadway capacity to motorists expected to travel across the state this holiday weekend.

“Suspending interstate construction in Tennessee during the Easter holiday will permit a free flow of traffic,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This should lessen travel interruptions for the many motorists traveling on our roadways to spend time with their families this holiday weekend.”

Motorists will still encounter some long term lane closures on construction projects that will remain in place. While lane closure activity will be stopped, some workers may be on site in construction zones and reduced speed limits will still be in effect. Motorists are urged to adhere to all posted speed limits, especially in work zones, for their own safety. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway and will be enforced.

Updated travel and construction information can be found on the TDOT SmartWay website at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or you may call 5?1?1. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can use the TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

TDOT: Expect Construction Work In Williamson, Wilson Counties

Press Release from Tennessee Department of Transportation; March 15, 2012:

Please make special note of the closures below:

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Widening of I-65 from SR 248 (Goose Creek) to SR 96

• Thursday March 15, 8PM-5AM, There will be alternating lane closures on I-65 southbound in order to pave the roadway.

• Friday March 16, 8PM through Saturday March 17, 12 Noon, There will be alternating lane closures on I-65 southbound in order to pave the roadway and shift traffic.  One lane will remain open.

WILSON COUNTY, Resurfacing I-40 from East of SR 840 to East of US 70

• Friday March 16 through Sunday March 18, 8PM-6AM, There will be alternating lane closures on I-40 eastbound and westbound at MM 238.0 for bridge work.

WILSON COUNTY,I-40 Widening from Central Pike to East of SR-109

• Sunday March 18 through Thursday March 22, 8PM-5AM, There will be alternating lane closures of the outside travel lane of I-40, both EB and WB (closures in one direction at a time only) from Central Pike to one mile east of SR 109 to drill test borings at various locations along the shoulder.  At least one lane will remain open at all times.

For real-time updates on all TDOT projects in Tennessee, please visit our website at www.tennessee.gov/tdot and click on the SmartWay logo. For the latest traffic or weather conditions, please call 511 or visit www.TN511.com. TDOT is also now on Twitter.  For up to date traffic tweets for the Nashville area follow Nashville511 ( http://twitter.com/nashville511 ) on Twitter.  For statewide traffic tweets just follow TN511 ( http://twitter.com/TN511 ).  Smart phone users can use the new TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes. Motorists are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly.  Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle.  TDOT advises drivers to “Know before you go!” by checking traffic conditions before leaving for their destination.

School Bond Authority OKs $212m in Construction Loans

State of Tennessee Press Release; Aug. 2, 2010:

The Tennessee State School Bond Authority (TSSBA) gave its approval Friday to approximately $212 million worth of school construction loans for 15 school districts. The loan funds, which are being made available through the state’s Qualified School Construction Bond program, will be used to build, renovate and repair schools in those districts.

Money from the program can only be used for new construction, rehabilitation or repair of public school facilities; land acquisition for qualified school construction projects or purchase of equipment used in connection with qualified projects.

The school systems and loan amounts approved Friday were:

Blount County – $15,016,740

Cocke County – $5,634,997

Coffee County – $3,060,000

Dyer County – $5,734,134

Hawkins County – $2,357,669

Jefferson County – $10,710,000

Knox County – $29,584,000

Lauderdale County – $2,550,000

Maury County – $4,959,240

Metro Nashville – $31,156,000

Sevier County – $14,661,423

Shelby County – $67,611,000

Sullivan County – $5,243,055

Trousdale County – $2,550,000

Warren County – $10,710,000

Some of the individual projects within those school districts are still under review to ensure they comply with the program’s guidelines. A final list of projects is expected to be available after the TSSBA approves the loan agreements with the county governments in August.

Of the $212 million, the federal government made a direct allocation of approximately  $85.7 million for various projects in the Knox County School System, Memphis City Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The bond sale to finance the construction and renovation projects is tentatively scheduled for the week of Sept. 13.

The TSSBA will invest the proceeds from the bond sale in the State Pooled Investment Fund and distribute them to the school districts to cover expenses related to their construction projects. The loans will be repaid at a very low interest rate.

Last year, the TSSBA provided $177 million in Qualified School Construction Bond loans to 13 local governments. Those loans are being repaid over 17 years at an interest rate of 1.515 percent.

The TSSBA members are: Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr., Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Governor Phil Bredesen, Finance and Administration Commissioner David Goetz, Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning and acting University of Tennessee President Jan Simek.

“I am very pleased that we are once again able to provide funding for these school districts through the Qualified School Construction Bond program,” Comptroller Wilson said. “In difficult economic times, this is an important source of financing for our state’s schools.”

“The low interest rates available through this program are as good as school districts are likely to find anywhere,” Treasurer Lillard said. “The needs of some of our school districts are substantial. I am glad that this type of financing is available to meet those needs.”

“I commend the General Assembly for creating this program,” Secretary of State Hargett said. “Our legislators recognized the importance of creating a valuable new funding source for our schools.”

Lynn Sees Gap Spanning Beavers’ Public Words, Legislative Deeds

One of this primary season’s most watched political brawls is heating up this week as two well-known state sovereignty champions whip negative campaign mailers and press releases at each other.

On top of sparring about the outcome of anti-health care mandates bills that failed this year, Republican State Rep. Susan Lynn is suggesting that when the rubber hits the road, state Sen. Mae Beavers’ doesn’t take either Tennessee highway safety or her professed ideological beliefs very seriously.

And a Democrat in the state Senate Dist. 17 race is capitalizing on the region’s long list of decrepit state bridges, too, promising the issue will live on long past primary election day Aug. 5.

“It’s your family. Could you vote ‘no?’ Mae Beavers did! Mae voted against funding safe bridges,” reads a Lynn campaign mailer sent out to district voters this week. “Elect me as your State Senator and I’ll fight for you to ensure that we have safe, functioning transportation corridors in DeKalb County.”

Sligo Bridge, in DeKalb County, was one of 200 roadway structures deemed by Tennessee Department of Transportation officials in need of upgrade after the high-profile 2007 bridge collapsed in Minnesota that killed 13 people.

Two years later, the federal government sent Tennessee enough stimulus dollars to fund about 70 bridge repairs statewide. Gov. Phil Bredesen then began urging the Legislature to borrow another $350 million to fix 200 other bridges.

According to voting records and archived floor debate, Beavers — who said she voted against this year’s Tennessee budget because it used stimulus funds — actually wanted the federal government to cover the bridge’s repairs when the issue came up last year. But the Tennessee Department of Transportation nixed the project from consideration because it wasn’t “shovel ready,” in keeping with federal strings attached to the stimulus money.

After some political negotiating, the Legislature — with Lynn voting in support — ultimately OK’d the plan to issue bonds to pay for the bridge repairs during the final June days of the spring 2009 legislative session.

However, the two-term incumbent senator from Mt. Juliet — who is often outwardly critical of federal meddling and interference into the affairs of state governments — voted against a borrowing package so the state could fund the bridge repairs on its own.

Before casting her “no” vote on SB2358, Sen. Beavers gave several reasons she opposed the bond measure, including that behind-the-scenes political maneuvering had unnecessarily prevented the Sligo Bridge from getting the go-ahead to be fixed with federal dollars.

“It’s strange to me that one of the most important bridges is the Sligo Bridge, and it was in the stimulus list to begin with until we decided to play politics with this bond bill,” she said on the Senate floor at the time.

“I can’t agree to borrow money in times like these, but I think politics are being played with this bond bill also, and I cannot vote for this,” she continued.

Beavers declined this week to elaborate for TNReport on what “politics” were being “played” on the bridge issues. The Sligo Bridge simply wasn’t applicable for the stimulus funds, she said.

According to TDOT, only state bridges in the most dire need across the state were considered to be fixed with stimulus funds. But to make the cut, the projects needed to be in a state in which work could start immediately, said chief engineer Paul Degges. Sligo Bridge was not, he said, so it was added to the list of bridges to be fixed later with borrowed money.

Beavers was one of three “no” votes in the Senate and eight in the House of Representatives.

Lynn says Beavers is contradicting herself by standing up for state sovereignty but refusing to fund bridge repairs when the federal government decides not to pay for them.

“The hypocrisy is she only voted against the budget because of stimulus funds,” said Lynn. “You can’t have it both ways.”

While Beavers’ mail pieces never mentioned the bridges, one of the postcards highlighted her voting against using the federal stimulus dollars to balance the state budget.

Although Beavers spoke in favor of Sligo Bridge repairs on the Senate floor, she declined to comment to TNReport whether she would have supported federal stimulus dollars paying for repairs to Sligo Bridge, saying it was never an option.

“It wasn’t a matter of it being in the stimulus money, because it wasn’t ready for any construction money,” she said.

Beavers’ says her upstart challenger is “twisting a vote around into something it’s not.”

“We’ve been operating on cash. She’s making an issue out of something that isn’t an issue,” said Beavers, who added that she supports funding construction on her local bridges. “She’s misrepresenting everything that she’s saying about me.”

Beavers and Lynn are bitter rivals seeking the same 17th District state Senate seat in the Republican primary election, representing Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and part of Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson Counties.

The two conservatives seemingly share more surface philosophical similarities than differences — in particular, a passion for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights and rhetorical disdain for expansive government.

But they also hold a common animus for one another, the public manifestations of which have often transfixed and amused many statehouse politics watchers.

However, Gordon Borck, a third Republican candidate for Beaver’s Senate seat, doesn’t find the the Beavers-Lynn feud particularly entertaining, and says district constituents are beginning to tire of their ritual hostilities as well.

Furthermore, there’s blame enough for both lawmakers to go around, he said.

Beavers shouldn’t be solely blamed for the district’s poor bridges, which also include Hurricane and Benton McMillian bridges over the Caney Fork River and Cordell Hull Bridge over the Cumberland River.

“It would appear to me that a state representative would bare as much responsibility (for bridge repair) as our current state senator,” he said.

Borck also agrees that the state should avoid using any stimulus dollars. “How can we take the money and tell the federal government to stay out of our business?” he said.

Democrats are also floating campaign messages about bridge repairs, including Sam Hatcher whose campaign ad points out the need to fix ailing bridges while making a swipe at Beavers and Lynn.

“We have bridges to repair across our district and bridges to repair in our state Senate,” he said in his add. “Let’s stop the bickering and focus on those issues that matter most to us.”

EXTRA:

Four Bridges in the 17th District Approved in the Bond Bill, Public Act 552, according to TDOT.

Sligo Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Dekalb County is slated to be replaced in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Cordell Hull Bridge over the Cumberland River in Smith County is slated to be rehabilitated in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Hurricane Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Smith County is scheduled to be replaced in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Benson-McMillian Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Dekalb County is slated to be rehabilitated in Fiscal Year 2010/2011.

Republican Party: TNDP Turns Own Members Into Collateral Damage

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, April 1, 2010:

NASHVILLE, TN – Just this morning, the Tennessee Democratic Party went on the attack against State House Republican Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver for a bill (HB 3627) she has been working to move through the legislature. Democrats characterized the intent of the legislation as “sheer lunacy.” Interestingly, the bill has already been approved by voice vote at the subcommittee and full committee levels with the support of Democrats. Further, the full committee that approved the legislation two days ago is actually chaired by a Democrat.

“I can’t imagine that the Democrats on these committees are very happy,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Here at the Tennessee Republican Party, our strategy is to protect our incumbent members. This is clearly a far cry from the tactics being employed by our Democrat counterparts.”

The legislation targeted by Tennessee Democrats is HB 3627, which was first passed out of the Subcommittee on Rural Roads by voice vote without any of the four Democrats on the committee being recorded as no. And two days ago it passed out of the full Transportation Committee – a committee chaired by a Democrat – by voice vote without any of the six Democrats on the committee being recorded as no.

To demonstrate the lack of opposition on Rep. Weaver’s legislation, video of the bill’s consideration in the full Transportation Committee two days ago is below.

Click HERE to View

*Discussion of Rep. Weaver’s bill begins at 34:15

Weaver Pushes Dems Back For Criticizing TDOT Bill

Press Release from Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster; April 1, 2010:

Rebukes TNDP For Lies

(April 1, 2010, NASHVILLE) – Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) struck back at the Tennessee Democratic Party today after they made false allegations about a bill she is currently sponsoring in the Tennessee General Assembly. House Bill 3627 would encourage the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to take into account quality of life and economic impact when prioritizing road projects. The TNDP falsely accused Weaver of jeopardizing federal funding by requiring the General Assembly to approve road projects.

“It is clear to me that the Tennessee Democratic Party has no interest in the truth,” said Representative Weaver. “This legislation would simply encourage TDOT to consider certain important factors when prioritizing road projects. There is no price tag on the bill, and the Tennessee Democratic Party would have realized this if they had actually read it,” she continued.

Representative Weaver’s bill specifically encourages TDOT to prioritize projects with the following objectives in mind:

* Ensuring the continued viability of and improving the quality of life in rural communities affected by any projects;

* Promoting economic development and tourism in affected communities;

* Improving public safety;

* Improving the efficiency of transportation routes and

* Coordinating the traffic flow between local communities to maximize opportunities for all of the state.

“While the Tennessee Democratic Party plays deceitful politics, I have been working tirelessly with TDOT and the constituents in my community to make District 40 an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Representative Weaver. “It is disappointing that they are taking cheap political shots, but it will not deter my work for the people of Macon, Smith, and DeKalb Counties,” she concluded.

Orange Barrels on Holiday Break

State of Tennessee press release, Dec. 18, 2009:

Tennessee Halts Lane Closure Activity for Seasonal Travelers

Rockslide detours demain in place for I-40 in North Carolina & U.S. 64 near Chattanooga

NASHVILLE –Holiday travelers should enjoy a smooth drive through Tennessee during the busy Christmas and New Year’s travel holiday. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is once again halting all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state.

No lane temporary lane closures will be allowed for construction on Tennessee roadways beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23 through 6:00 a.m. on Monday, January 4.

“Many Tennesseans traditionally take advantage of the opportunity to travel to visit family and friends during this holiday period,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “We want to ensure that motorists traveling in Tennessee arrive at their destinations safely and with as little disruption as possible.”

Except for a few long-term closures which must remain in place for safety, all construction related closures will be suspended. Workers will also be on site in some construction zones. Drivers should obey all posted speed limits, particularly in construction areas. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway and will be enforced. Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of $250 to $500, plus court fees and possible increased insurance premiums.

“Drivers can expect to see increased law enforcement on the roads throughout the holiday with a particular focus on stopping drivers who are impaired,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “We want everyone to have a safe holiday so remember to buckle up, drive the speed limit and don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’ve had anything to drink.”

AAA predicts holiday travel will increase 3% in Tennessee. An estimated 1.3 million are expected to travel by automobile in the volunteer state and another 40,000 are anticipated to travel by air for a total of 1.46 million travelers. Across the U.S. 87.7 million are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this year.

Motorists in the eastern part of Tennessee will have to detour around two rockslides that have closed I-40 in North Carolina and U.S. 64 in Polk County, Tennessee near Chattanooga. Motorists can find more information on both rockslides, including detours, by visiting the TDOT website.

For up-to-date travel information, motorists may call 511 from any land line or cellular phone or visit. TDOT is also on Twitter. Click here for statewide travel Tweets. Motorists are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly. Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle. Drivers should “Know before you go!” and check traffic conditions before leaving for your destination.