News release from the governor’s office:
ALCOA – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam traveled across the state today highlighting transportation projects in Alcoa, Kingsport, Chattanooga, Memphis and Lebanon that illustrate the challenges facing Tennessee’s infrastructure system.
Joined by Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer, Haslam also released two transportation projects lists: a list of 181 backlogged projects that will not be completed or at least under contract until 2034; and a list of 765 new project needs that cannot be considered until 2022 at the earliest, if ever.
A 2015 Tennessee Comptroller’s report on transportation funding states that revenues are not expected to be sufficient to maintain current infrastructure. Cars and trucks are more fuel-efficient, construction and labor costs have risen, and Congress has not passed a long-term transportation funding bill in 10 years. Tennessee’s population is expected to grow by 2 million by 2040, which puts a greater demand on the state’s infrastructure.
“Today is about starting a thoughtful discussion on what Tennesseans want from their transportation system today and for their children and grandchildren. Transportation affects every Tennessean. From the business moving product to the parents trying to make it home before their kids go to bed, everyone has a stake in this discussion,” Haslam said. “The last time Tennessee passed a roads plan was 1986, so if history is any indication, it could be another 30 years before the state has another plan.
“Tennessee has a debt-free system that is the third highest ranked in the country and spends the third least per capita,” he added. “But looking ahead five years, there are very real challenges that will affect the conditions of our roads and bridges, our ability to recruit the jobs we want in Tennessee, and our quality of life.”
The backlog projects have been approved by the General Assembly but lack available funding to move forward. In August and September, Haslam and Schroer visited 15 cities hearing from local officials about transportation challenges in their area, and the new projects needs list reflects what Haslam and Schroer heard during those conversations as well as other projects TDOT has identified to address growth and safety issues.
The projects Haslam and Schroer highlighted today are:
• Alcoa Highway in Blount County – $271.7 million (backlog list);
• State Route 126 in Kingsport – $98.7 million (backlog and new lists);
• I-24/I-75 Interchange in Hamilton County – $65 million (new list);
• Lamar Avenue in Memphis – $229.1 million (backlog list); and
• I-40 in Lebanon – $61.6 million (new list).
“Each of these projects is vitally important to these communities, whether the issue is safety, congestion, or enhancing economic development opportunities,” Schroer said. “The stark reality is that it could be nearly two decades before we’re able to pay for these needed improvements, and further delays will only have negative impacts on Tennesseans.”