$21 million designated for Tennessee public road safety

$21 million designated for Tennessee public road safety

September 21st, 2013 by Jeff LaFave in Local Regional News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

Funding by county

Bledsoe: $10,000

Bradley: $49,979.75

Franklin: $74,346.92

Grundy: $71,634.72

Hamilton: $489,855.30

Marion: $68,520.96.

McMinn: $273,514.95

Meigs: $35,827.42

Polk: $49,009.96

Rhea: $60,000.01

Sequatchie: $45,630.30

Source: Governor's Highway Safety Office database

Tennessee's roads aren't paved with money. But Gov. Bill Haslam is spending $21.1 million to make them safer.

Haslam, state transportation officials and the Governor's Highway Safety Office announced the annual funding to support public roadway safety efforts this week. The money was parceled out in 434 grants to 370 agencies across the state.

"Having safe roads is critical to our mission of making Tennessee a better place to live, work and raise a family," Haslam said in a news release.

The grants ranged from a minimum of $5,000 for "high visibility enforcement" to large sums for more than $2.8 million to the University of Tennessee's law enforcement department -- 13.5 percent of the total expenditures.

Hamilton County will receive nearly a half-million dollars -- $489.855.30, to be exact -- for everything from identifying crash causes to preventing multiple violations of traffic laws.

But most counties saw between $10,000 and $100,000.

"Grants awarded by our office are provided in areas of need," Governor's Highway Safety Office Director Kenneth Poole said. "Statistics show our problem areas and we strive to put the funding where it will be most effective."

The purposes for the money varied widely, but a common theme was DUI enforcement and alcohol saturation checkpoints.

Other grants fund initiatives in speed enforcement, first responder equipment, specialized impaired driving prosecutors and child passenger safety training.

"These grants will make a difference and help save lives," said Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer.

McMinn County will receive about $273,000. Sheriff Joe Guy said his office will receive about $40,000, and that money is usually applied to keep current programs functioning well, not to create a plethora of change.

Half of his $40,000 funding goes towards must-haves such as raincoats and flashlights for safe nighttime operation.

The other half keeps pay officer salaries and overtime for the county's DUI programs.

"It enhances the number of officers out here," Guy said. "It benefits the officer because they get overtime, and it benefits the county because it's compensated."

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.