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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.