News release from Tennessee Department of Transportation
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s popular HELP program is growing. TDOT was awarded a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant that will allow the department to add more HELP Operators and trucks, as well as expand the routes of the HELP program in West, Middle, and East Tennessee.
“In the 15 plus years our HELP trucks have been on the road, they have proven to be an invaluable resource for TDOT, other first responders, and the traveling public,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Expanding the program will help us maximize the efficiency of our transportation system and better serve the citizens of our state.”
Congress has approved another short-term extension of federal highway funding — for two weeks — as a House-Senate conference committee tries to reach a compromise on longer-term legislation. Two Tennessee congressmen serving on the conference committee — Reps. Steve Cohen and John Duncan — say they are confident a deal will be reached.
“I think it’s pretty clear we will,” said Cohen, a Democrat who sits on the House-Senate conference committee negotiating the final language. “Transportation is generally a bipartisan issue, and everybody was in a very bipartisan, collegial, let’s-get-it-done mood.”
Duncan, a Republican who also serves on the House-Senate panel, thinks it’s just a matter of time until the new package is finalized.
“I think we’ll have a bill,” he said. “Everybody on both sides seems to want one. It’s all stuff that we’ve been working on for a long time, and this is a bill that we really need to do.”
It has been a decade since Congress passed a highway bill that extends longer than two years, even though the transportation industry and states that rely on federal highway funding say five or six years are needed to plan and develop major road and transit projects.
…Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that authorized $325 billion in spending on highways and transit projects over the next six years, but came up with enough money to pay for only half of them. The Senate passed its own highway bill back in July that guaranteed three years of funding for transportation projects.
News release from Tennessee Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – A series of brutal winter storms followed by heavy rainfall amounts have created an abundance of potholes along Tennessee’s interstates and state highways. With warmer temperatures in the forecast over the coming days, TDOT is launching a massive effort using all available manpower to repair the damaged areas as quickly as possible.
Multiple 5-6 man crews in each of TDOT’s four regions will be patching potholes over the coming days and weeks. Cold mix asphalt is currently being used for repairs. As weather allows, these crews will be making every attempt to use hot mix asphalt which results in a more permanent repair. Full scale paving will be necessary in many locations. Some crews will be assigned to interstates while others will focus on state routes.
Please note – inclement weather, emergency repairs or incidents may disrupt daily schedules. TDOT does not count potholes, keep a tally of how many potholes have been repaired or the cost of repairs per pothole. These repairs are part of normal highway maintenance operations.
For the next few weeks, daily pothole patching schedules for each region will be posted at www.tdot.state.tn.us/maintenance/potholes.htm.
Motorists should be prepared for short term traffic delays during these repair operations. While every effort will be made to perform repairs during off-peak travel times (9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. weekdays), some lane closures may extend into the late afternoon, evening, and weekends. We ask drivers to be patient and to watch out for TDOT crews on interstates and state highways.
Motorists can alert TDOT to potholes via email at TDOT.Comments@tn.gov or by phone at 1-877-SmartWay.
Construction of roads — along with greenways, bike trails and other community projects — could be grinding to a crawl as the federal government cuts transportation funding and requires more local financial participation when handing out what’s left.
The Federal Highway Administration this summer rescinded $51.9 million in promised funding for Tennessee roads and tightened the rules on providing “enhancement” money to other transportation-related projects.
With the exception of the surge of federal stimulus dollars in 2009, such cutbacks have been a trend for the past decade. Paul Degges, chief engineer for the state Department of Transportation, estimates $463 million in such broken promises since 2002.
Current funding stands at $900 million — down from 2009’s $1.3 billion. For the federal government’s fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, Tennessee is optimistically expecting about $850 million.
Further shrinkage seems inevitable. The basic federal highway budget has been authorized on a temporary basis in past years and the latest stopgap expires Sept. 30.