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Gov. Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE -- Gov. Bill Haslam next week will launch a six-week tour of the state to build support for his effort to get new monies to fund Tennessee's growing transportation and infrastructure needs in areas ranging from road capacity to safety..

The 15-city tour starts Aug. 5 in Memphis. Other stops in coming weeks include Chattanooga and Cleveland as the governor seeks to convince both the public and fellow Republicans in the Legislature that more funding is necessary.

"Tennessee's transportation and infrastructure system always ranks at or near the top when compared to the rest of the country," Haslam said in a news release. "We have no transportation debt, and we do a great job maintaining our roads, but we know we have challenges on the horizon."

Transportation Commissioner John Schroer will join Haslam to explain the state's transportation and infrastructure needs relating to functionality and capacity of state roads and highways, safety issues around roads and bridges and the impact infrastructure has on economic development efforts statewide.

 "We know that we can't depend on the federal government to be the funding partner that it once was," Haslam said. "We also know that as our infrastructure ages, maintenance becomes more important and more expensive. And we know that maintaining our roads is only part of the equation."

For years, Congress has struggled over coming up with its share of transportation funding.

The governor said that "right now we have a multi-billion dollar backlog of highway projects across this state that address key access, safety and economic development issues and that's only going to grow."

That includes an estimated $400 million of projects in Hamilton County alone.

A number of states, including Georgia, have addressed funding issues by raising fuel taxes, fees or both.

Haslam's first pitch will be to the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce.

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