The problem with this process is that there is no horse race between different projects and no assurance that the best horse won. Every government expenditure has a potential for leaving behind a better idea in favor of the one that seems to be already chosen. Project selection in transportation has been broken badly since the Clinton Administration with the advent of Planning as a required element of consideration. The Metro Planning and Rural Planning Organizations are a disaster with respect to accountability and respect to the quality of the choices that are made.
It amazes me that a project of over a half billion dollars can't find $9 million for a road to get there. Most developers have to build the transportation infrastructure to their developments and turn it over to the local government. The system of redistribution of money to local governments works a hardship on larger urban areas. This is by design. The old Depression Era Theory was that roads need to connect urban areas to their rural areas where food and fiber come from. The system of redistribution does that. But, it means that urban areas are eventually going to use larger and larger fractions of their tax base to have transportation system within their urban boundaries. A more perfect system would be to redistribute money to local governments based on their current lane miles and vehicle miles traveled. As long as projects are speculative and their merits discussed secretly, The best system in the world is of little value.
This TIF fiasco is the natural and logical consequences of giving subsidies to industrial development. Once the legislature was used to doing that, the next logical move was to jump to other categories of economic activity. Even though all urban areas in Tennessee have had net losses of industrial jobs in the period from 2001 to 2010, the feeling that tax money can make something good happen still hangs on. According to the Bureau of Economic Development, Hamilton County lost 8,499 industrial jobs from 2001 to 2010. Nashville lost 12,050 in the same period. Even with the ability to condemn land and build industrial access roads to industries, the policy designed to boost industrial jobs is a failure. All we are doing now is going on to commercial and residential developments, mixed use, to see how that will turn out.
They need to occupy Moccasin Bend.
Mr. Johnson understates the disastrous economic decision to build Corridor K, even as a two lane. No state should be building anything to serve less that 10,000 cars per day right now. The state average income per vehicle mile before this recession was a little over two cents. What projects are going to be cancelled or delayed to pay the difference between the $1.50 required and the two plus cents per vehicle mile that we are taking in? TDOT is operating an asphalt welfare program and this is the cost before the over runs. The corrupt Metropolitan and Rural Planning project selection system is very good at picking projects based on political need but is totally worthless when it comes to picking projects based on real transportation need.
Danny L. Newton
Just on the State Economic and Community Development Web Site is more than 95 square miles of empty and mostly undeveloped land in the state of Tennessee waiting for the next factory. There are about 1300 empty land only and land properties with building sites in the state of Tennessee waiting for the next factory. The legislature gives special status to condemnation for industrial buildings.
The local folks in Hamilton County may have thrown a lot of money in but so did the state in building the infamous interchange to nowhere. Industrial jobs are shrinking and the value per pay check is shrinking while the efforts to recruit go unabated. It is quite possible that next year the number of government employees including teachers will exceed the number of factory workers in Tennessee.
This is just another rat hole for public money to fall into. The typical industry only needs about 4% of product costs to pay for the land and buildings. Their main cost item is the people working in them. Economic development incentives are ineffective because there is no concentration on what helps factories the most which is an environment that is friendly to business and an environment that promotes affordable living.
Most economic development projects produce nothing or when they finally do produce something, the tax base generated does not justify the expense. There are industrial parks all over Tennessee that are partially utilized. but never fill up and can not possibly fill up because the amount of industrial space needed is actually shrinking. American industrial effort is fairly stable and remains about 22% of the world production no matter how much goes to Mexico or comes from China. Annual increases in productivity means that the number of workers required is shrinking every year. Industrial employment in Tennessee peaked in 1979 and has been going down ever since. About every 25 years the number of factory workers will be cut in half.