Transportation Coalition of TN Warns Against Statewide ‘Infrastructure Crisis’

Press release from the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee; May 13, 2015:

Transportation Coalition of Tennessee launches education campaign amid statewide transportation and infrastructure crisis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 13, 2015) – A coalition of transportation experts announced today that Tennessee is in a transportation infrastructure funding crisis that threatens the safety of drivers and the economic competitiveness of the state.

“Tennessee’s transportation system is now in crisis,” said Susie Alcorn, executive director of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance. “At a time when our state is growing – in terms of population and economy – we no longer have the ability to create and maintain a transportation infrastructure to support it.”

The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee formed late last year to shed light on the growing transportation issues and put pressure on Tennessee’s lawmakers to address those issues.

Bill Moore, chairman of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance and former chief engineer for TDOT, says the growing number of committed but unfunded transportation projects will only get larger and more expensive if they are not addressed now.

“These are all projects TDOT has identified as needs,” said Moore. “A maintenance-only budget not only means no new roads or transportation options, but it also means less safe roads, more traffic congestion and more inconvenience for motorists.”

Notable projects in the Nashville area include:

  •  I-40 at SR 255 (Donelson Pike) Interchange. TDOT proposes to reconstruct this interchange and relocate access ramps to the airport at an estimated cost of $50 million.  I-40 at the airport currently carries just over 117,000 vehicles/day.
  • SR 96 from Franklin in Williamson County to Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.  TDOT proposes to widen and improve SR 96 from Arno Road in Franklin to Overall Creek in Murfreesboro at an estimated cost of $82.5 million. Daily traffic on this section exceeds 10,000/day.
  • US 41A (Clarksville Highway) from 12 to Briley Parkway. TDOT proposes to widen and improve Clarksville Highway in this section of Nashville at an estimated cost of $20 million. Approximately 16,000 vehicles use this roadway on a daily basis.

“This is not just a state problem. Counties are impacted too. We operate county roads and bridges that are funded largely through state transportation dollars,” said Rodney Carmical, executive director of the Tennessee County Highway Officials Association and a coalition member.

“Keeping our infrastructure adequately funded makes our roads and bridges safer for our residents, it makes our commutes better and more efficient, and it improves our state economy,” Carmical said.

State and local transportation projects in Tennessee are funded primarily by state and federal fuel-tax revenues. These projects include maintenance, repair and new construction. Tennessee’s fuel taxes have not changed since 1989, yet the state’s population has increased 14 percent since 2000, bringing more traffic to roads and highways. Transportation experts estimate it would take an additional $6 billion to $8 billion to begin to seriously address some of the committed but unfunded road projects across Tennessee.

“Safe roads and bridges are a key factor in overall highway traffic safety,” said Tim Wright with Auto Club Group/AAA Tennessee. “These are the roads that we travel on every day to go to work, to take our children to school or to run basic errands. We need to maintain these roads and bridges in a safe condition and we’ve got to have additional funding to do that.”

The coalition was launched to educate the public and state legislators as it seeks an increase and reform in Tennessee’s transportation fees. The coalition include businesses, residents, community leaders, public officials and organizations that are interested in continuing Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure for the long haul.

The group intends to work closely with Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee state legislators moving forward in hopes that they will find a long-term solution in 2016.

“It is our hope that a permanent solution to our state’s transportation funding crisis can be found,” Alcorn said.

  • cannoneer2

    Have we stopped diverting gasoline tax revenues to other uses within Tennessee’s budget? A little research indicates that as of 2008, $200 million had been diverted from the road fund to other parts of state government. Wonder how much more has disappeared between 2008-2015? Let’s be efficient stewards of what we have before coming hat-in-hand for more taxes!