Haslam lays out plans for statewide road revenue tour

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that he will be traveling the state with Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer over the next six weeks to discuss the state’s transportation and infrastructure needs relating to 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 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.”

The 15 meetings will be held throughout August and early September in Memphis, Clarksville, Union City, Jackson, Nashville, Franklin, Kingsport, Greeneville, Shelbyville, Murfreesboro, Crossville, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Lenoir City and Knoxville. Participants will include state legislators, mayors, local elected officials, business leaders, chamber of commerce executives, and local infrastructure officials.

“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. “In putting together a long range plan, we look to Tennessee communities to help prioritize these projects to make sure we’re addressing evolving traffic patterns, population growth, safety issues, and the many other things that impact our infrastructure. These conversations are invaluable to the process.”

The first meeting will be held Wednesday, August 5 in Memphis at the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE/Note: Going by Mary Mancini’s press release response to the Haslam press release, Democrats are somewhat less than enthusiastic. The TNDP release is below.

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Nashville, Tenn. (July 28, 2015) – Governor Bill Haslam’s announced 6-week statewide road trip to discuss transportation and infrastructure plans comes at a time when 280,000 hardworking Tennesseans —including 24,000 veterans — continue to be denied access to affordable health care.

“Rather than calling a special session to help 280,000 hardworking Tennesseans gain access to affordable health care, Gov. Haslam is instead taking a victory lap to crow about our top-ranked transportations system. It’s beyond comprehension that he’s ignored the call to fight for the passage of Insure Tennessee and save lives, but he has no problem hitting the road to crow about the excellent condition of our asphalt.” said Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini.

In a press release announcing the tour, Haslam says the state’s transportation and infrastructure system ranks at or near the top compared to the rest of country.

“Tennessee’s Republican leaders have no problem taking back our federal tax dollars for fixing roads that don’t need fixing but have put roadblock after roadblock in front of taking back our federal tax dollars to help hardworking Tennesseans gain access to affordable health care,” said Mancini, “Our roads are doing fine but the people are struggling to be able to take their kids to the doctor. Governor Haslam should be ashamed.”