published Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Your tax dollars at work?

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    Southbound U.S. Highway 127 traffic moves slowly Monday afternoon between Shoal Creek and Barrington Road on Signal Mountain as the Tennessee Department of Transportation oversees a five-mile paving job that is expected to last 50 days.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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Good, smooth roads are obviously desirable, but we have to admit we’re stumped by the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s newly begun repaving of five miles of U.S. Highway 127 from the base of Signal Mountain to the top.

Parts of the road are prone to washing out in heavy rain, as happened in late 2009, and the state has contracted with an engineering firm for an extensive study of Highway 127. But the study won’t be complete for several months.

So doesn’t it seem strange that TDOT is moving ahead with the current repaving, at a cost of more than $900,000 — 90 percent of it from the federal government — even before the study’s results are in? Wouldn’t it have been more reasonable to get those findings first, to know exactly what needs to be done on Highway 127?

Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk certainly thinks so. He told the Times Free Press that the repaving may be a waste of money, because some work may have to be redone if TDOT later determines that more extensive, structural repairs are needed.

Does it make sense to spend $900,000-plus for repaving that might eventually have to be torn up? It’s inconvenient enough when lanes have to be closed even once for road work. Imagine that potentially having to be done twice in a relatively short period of time.

We want the residents of Signal Mountain and everyone else to have good roads, but that should be accomplished as economically and sensibly as possible.

And if you think the paving of Highway 127 is a bargain just because most of the cost will be paid by the federal government, think again. Remember: For every federal project that taxpayers in other states are funding in Tennessee, Tennesseans’ tax dollars are funding federal projects in their states as well.

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