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TDOT Announces $27M in Air Quality Grants for 11 Communities

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; August 22, 2014:

Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced today the award of over $27 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grants in 11 communities across the state. The 31 grants will fund a wide range of transportation projects designed to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Funded projects include expansions of the TDOT HELP truck program statewide, improvements in traffic signal timing, cleaner transit buses and alternative fuel vehicles purchases, and protected bicycle lanes in Chattanooga. The grants also include a multimodal river port in Clarksville, and expanded transit service in several areas. Another project will include the addition of a bicycle-pedestrian trail on the Harahan Bridge in downtown Memphis.

“These projects are helping our transportation network operate more efficiently, while also providing better transportation options for our citizens,” Commissioner Schroer said. “The result will be better air quality and reduced congestion, which improves the quality of life for Tennesseans and creates more livable communities all over the state.”

The CMAQ Program funds transportation projects that reduce air emissions from on-road sources (cars, trucks, buses) and non-road sources (locomotives, barges, road construction equipment), as well as projects that reduce traffic congestion. CMAQ projects are limited to nonattainment or maintenance counties where air quality fails to attain national health standards. For most CMAQ projects, TDOT will provide 80 percent of the project funding, with the remaining 20 percent provided by the local project sponsor.

“From better traffic signal coordination in Gatlinburg to expanded park and ride options for several Memphis communities, many of these projects will offer great benefits to travelers across the state,” said Deputy Commissioner Toks Omishakin, Chief of TDOT’s Environment and Planning Bureau. “Through this program, we are also making great strides in our efforts to reduce emissions and improve air quality.”

For a list of CMAQ grant recipients and detailed information on each project, please visit http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/news/2014/cmaq/.

Haslam Awards Shelbyville $361K TDOT Grant

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 11, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced today the award of a $361,440 transportation alternative grant to the city of Shelbyville for the North Square Sidewalk Improvement Project.

The project includes replacement of nearly 2,000 feet of existing sidewalks, and improvements to four intersections north of the City Public Square. This project continues the city’s efforts to provide pedestrian facilities to its downtown, and will build on previous improvements along the corridor. The project will also improve the aesthetics of the area, and encourage development in the downtown district.

“This project will support Shelbyville’s efforts to give its downtown a more vibrant, inviting appearance,” Haslam said. “We want to continue to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family, and projects like these are key to making that a reality.”

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement, and is administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) represent Bedford County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Haslam Awards Brownsville $715K TDOT Grant

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 23, 2014:

BROWNSVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer today announced a $715,844 transportation alternative grant to the city of Brownsville to fund Phase II of the Downtown Enhancements Project.

The project is located along Main Street from South Bradford Avenue to North Park Avenue and will include the removal and replacement of 1,800 linear feet of sidewalk, the relocation of utilities and new landscaping. The improvements will greatly improve pedestrian safety and mobility, and create a gateway into Brownsville.

“This project will enhance the character of downtown Brownsville and create a more pedestrian friendly environment,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s downtowns are the heart of our communities, and improvements like these improve our cities and towns and the quality of life for residents.”

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT. A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects, are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) and Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) represent Haywood County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Monteagle, Tracy City Receive Nearly $820K in Transportation Grants

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; July 8, 2014:

MONTEAGLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced today nearly $820,000 in two transportation alternative grants for Monteagle and Tracy City to connect downtown districts to trails and make other enhancements.

The town of Monteagle was awarded a $216,320 grant for the Pedestrian Corridor Extension Project. The project will install approximately 2,000 feet of 5-foot sidewalks on the east side of Highway 64 beginning at Dubose Street heading south to Elgin Drive. The sidewalk will extend access to the multiuse trail and park in downtown Monteagle. A new pedestrian crosswalk will also be created across Highway 64 at the Monteagle City Ball Park.

Tracy City received a $603,569 grant to fund the Downtown Sidewalk and Mountain Goat Trail Connector Project. The project will provide pedestrian and bicyclist enhancements to the historic downtown business district, including a multimodal path and trailhead parking. The grant will also fund a key section of the Mountain Goat Trail, a projected 35-plus mile trail linking Franklin and Grundy counties.

“Enhancing transportation options and connections between areas in Grundy County will increase pedestrian and visitor traffic to businesses and recreation areas,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s downtowns are the heart of our communities, and projects like these improve our cities’ and towns’ livability and the quality of life for residents.”

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement, and is administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects, are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) and state Rep. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) represent Grundy County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

TDOT Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; July 1, 2014:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation today kicked off “100 Years of Moving Tennessee Forward,” a year-long celebration of its centennial as a state agency. The state statute creating the first state highway agency, the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works, became law on July 1, 1915. The department was tasked with creating a network of state highways and to perform and oversee construction and maintenance on state roadways.

Commissioner John C. Schroer, the 29th commissioner of the agency, said, “For a hundred years, this agency has been moving Tennessee forward with a fiscally sound funding philosophy and strategic investments. Our goal then and now is to serve the citizens of Tennessee by providing the best transportation system in the nation.”

Several activities are planned over the next year, including historical exhibits, a history book, and a permanent centennial memorial to help educate Tennesseans on the value of transportation and the significant contributions made by the agency and the men and women who built the state’s transportation system.

TDOT has also launched a website with a history video, schedule of activities for the year, an agency timeline, “Transportation AnecDOTes,” a photo gallery and historical documents. Later this summer a social media campaign will encourage the public to share their transportation related photos. A celebration will cap off events on July 1, 2015 when TDOT hits the big 100.

“From Gov. Austin Peay’s 1923 recognition that motorists should pay for the roads rather than property owners to the passage of the 1986 Road Program by Gov. Lamar Alexander, leadership in Tennessee has always recognized the value of a good transportation system and acted on that philosophy,” Commissioner Schroer added. “We are pleased to mark this milestone by sharing TDOT’s history with our transportation users.”

The “100 Years of Moving Tennessee Forward” website is located on the TDOT website: www.tn.gov/TDOT/100years.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29ZPk0hVbsE&list=UUP-ArMX3gQLDZAA6GUzziKQ&index=1[/youtube]

Anticipated Federal Funding Shortfall Makes for Bumpy Ride at TDOT

Tennessee is said to be on relatively solid financial footing as a result of having no highway-construction debt.

But federal budget bickering is causing uncertainty for state Department of Transportation officials trying to map out spending on projects down the road.  New transportation projects may have to be shelved until more cash gets routed to the state through Washington, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said this week.

The possible shortfall comes as a result of the most recent transportation bill passed by Congress, MAP21 –- Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – which went into effect Oct. 1, 2012, and is only currently funded through October of 2014, he said.

According to Schroer, the state could lose about $850 million in the first year, and $300 million in the years “thereafter.”

“We don’t know we’re going to lose it,” Schroer told reporters after a budget hearing before Republican Gov. Bill Haslam Monday.

“They could come and pass a new authorization for MAP21 and funding could be in place,” Schroer added. “If that’s the case, we’d be tickled to death. But there’s a possibility that that won’t happen, and so I felt the governor needed to be aware of that.”

However, the quality of the roads in Tennessee won’t likely diminish as a result of lost funding, Schroer predicted. The state is planning enough money for road-infrastructure upkeep to continue maintenance of existing thoroughfares for the year, though new projects are not likely to get funded.

Part of the reason Tennessee will not face more trouble with the loss of federal funding is that the state is one of only five in the nation operating in the black when it comes to transportation finances. That means all of the state’s transportation funds go to road building and road upkeep rather than bondholders, Schroer said.

Haslam said the state’s transportation budget will be among the “trickiest” for the administration, both because it isn’t funded through the state’s general fund like most agencies and also because a “huge falloff” in federal dollars will leave a significant hole.

But the state has for some time been taking a frugal approach to transportation financing, and it will pay off if lean times are indeed ahead, said the governor.

“The good news for Tennessee is because we don’t have road debt, and because we’ve been responsibly managed for years and years — as the commissioner said, before any of us got here –- we’re in a much better situation to make certain that we can do basic road maintenance and address safety issues,” Haslam said to reporters after the hearing.

“That being said, it is a very difficult time for the department obviously because they don’t know what will happen next year,” Haslam added. “This situation is more out of our hands than any of the other department budgets.”

TDOT’s proposed budget is $1,807,285,800, about $10 million less than the previous year’s funding request, with approximately $975 million coming from the feds, $794 million from the state and $38 million from localities, according to budget documents.

Construction projects, maintenance and preservation of existing infrastructure and transportation grants make up 91 percent of the TDOT budget, Schroer said. The department also has a “backlog” of “projects which have been funded in some form of development,” that comes in at a projected cost of just under $8.5 billion.

Because federal funding is often tied to specific spending, TDOT has a limited amount of money to address the backlog, and therefore the department prioritizes projects based on safety, congestion, economic development, and other factors, Schroer said.

However, Schroer told reporters that it was “premature” to discuss any changes to funding the department within the state — such as an increase to the state’s gas tax – until there was a better idea of how federal dollars would be passed out to the states in the future.

In order to address the large backlog of transportation projects, the department has adopted an “Expedited Project Delivery” system, under which teams of safety experts and planners are sent to analyze project sites to “see if there’s a way that we can do what we need to do to solve the problem without putting all the bells and whistles on a project,” Schroer said.

While cities may want to add more aesthetic qualities to their road projects, such as bike-paths or brick walkways, TDOT’s job is specifically to produce the transportation side of the road, Schroer said.

“With a backlog (of $8.5 Billion) how is it fair that we can spend that money for enhancements to a road, when other cities and communities don’t get a road at all,” Schroer said.

The EPD program for 2015 fiscal year will reduce the cost of five projects to $9,236,700 from an expected cost of $180,385,000, and TDOT will analyze another 25 transportation projects this year to consider for the program, Schroer said.

Ducktown to Get Transportation Grant for Sidewalks, Lighting

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; July 11, 2013:

DUCKTOWN – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer announced today a $256,791 transportation grant for Ducktown to replace sidewalks and install new street lighting, landscaping and new crosswalks at the intersection of Main Street and State Route 68.

The project is Phase I of the Pedestrian Enhancement Project located on Main Street within Ducktown’s historic downtown area. The improvements are the first in a two-phase project to rehabilitate Main Street.

“This project will improve safety and mobility for pedestrians while also promoting the redevelopment of downtown Ducktown,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s downtowns are the heart of our communities, and projects such as this help strengthen the livability of our communities and the quality of life for residents.”

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $294 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally-funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT.

A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

State Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and state Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) represent Polk County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Gibson County Receives 3 TDOT Grants

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; June 26, 2013:

Grants to Humboldt, Milan and Trenton for downtown improvements

TRENTON – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer announced today the award of three grants to Humboldt, Milan and Trenton for three downtown improvement projects.

“These improvements will provide increased and safer mobility, connecting pedestrians with everything these Gibson County cities have to offer,” Haslam said. “Downtowns are the heart of our communities, and these projects will help efforts to revitalize and enhance these areas for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

A $396,248 grant will fund Phase II of the Downtown Enhancement Project in Humboldt. The project includes the replacement of sidewalks and curbs along each side of 14th Avenue, which is part of Humboldt’s downtown business district. Decorative pedestrian lighting and stamped concrete driveways will also be added along the route.

A $392,052 grant will fund Phase III of the Milan Downtown Revitalization Project. The project is located on Southwest Front Street between South First Street and Second Street. It includes new sidewalks, ADA accessible crosswalks, bicycle racks, and new landscaping. Pedestrian lighting and new signs will also be installed.

A $525,469 grant will fund Phase II of the Trenton Trail, a downtown historical connection project, adding sidewalks to Eaton and South College Streets as well as traffic calming devices, crosswalks and new signs. The project will also highlight locations along the Civil War Trail.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $294 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation and increase opportunities for economic development.”

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally-funded program formerly known as “transportation enhancement” and is administered by TDOT.

A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

State Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) and state Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) represent Gibson County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

TDOT Creates New Office to Aid Collaboration with Municipalities

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; March 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation is announcing the creation of the Office of Community Transportation (OCT). The mission of the OCT is to coordinate transportation planning and local land use decisions to guide the development of a safe and efficient statewide transportation system.

“We really want to increase the level of collaboration between TDOT and municipalities across the state,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “The Office of Community Transportation will work with these local entities to make sure our transportation planning efforts and project development plans coincide with future growth and help us meet the needs of communities.”

The OCT will collaborate with local partners to establish a regional presence that will aid communities when developing and implementing their future visions as they pertain to state routes. The Office of Community Transportation will provide resources dedicated to ensuring the successful preparation and execution of community growth as it relates with state transportation.

The OCT is a statewide initiative led by the newly appointed Assistant Director of Long Range Planning, Brenda Bernards. Once fully implemented, the OCT will have regional staff in Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis who will be committed to working specifically with the communities within their region. They will also work closely with Tennessee’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations to coordinate regional transportation priorities.

By working directly with community partners, the OCT will be capable of eliminating potential transportation difficulties with future local projects such as new schools, subdivisions, and major activity centers like shopping centers and industrial parks. The OCT can have a positive impact on economic development efforts by working with local partners to identify necessary improvements to the State Route system.

For more information on the Office of Community Transportation, please visit http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/longrange/oct.htm.

TDOT Taking ‘Ford Fiesta’ Approach to Road Projects

Tennessee transportation officials say they want to put more emphasis on improving existing roadways, rather than building new projects that entail costly land acquisition and environmental reviews.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said during a state budget hearing Wednesday that an agency focus on “right-sizing” will save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.

“We’re going to the very beginning and saying, OK, what’s the minimum we can do to fix this project?” Schroer said. “And it might not be ‘A,’ it might not be ‘B,’ it might be ‘C,’ but before we just go all the way to ‘X’ and say that’s what we’re going to build and everybody’s happy so we build a Cadillac, we might be building a Ford Fiesta.”

Schroer said the department is proposing to increase its budget next year by $61.4 million, based on increased federal funding, which makes up more than half the agency’s budget. State funding is projected to decrease, he said. The department’s projected budget for fiscal year 2014 is $1.8 billion.

The public can view state budget hearings, which continue next week, at TN.gov.