Tennessee sends $1.1 billion, seven-road wish list to Trump

Tennessee sends $1.1 billion, seven-road wish list to Trump

January 25th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State

This file photo from February 2012 shows a growing crack in a section of U.S. Highway 127 on Signal Mountain. A section of the southbound lane has slid off the mountain before, and some residents are concerned it may happen again.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The Haslam administration has submitted a seven-item list of priority state road projects totaling $1.16 billion for President Donald Trump's administration to consider.

Tennessee is among states that have offered up such lists of "shovel ready" but unfunded projects to the National Governors Association at the request of Trump's then-transition team.

The Volunteer State list includes a stretch of U.S. 127 in Cumberland and Fentress counties north of Chattanooga. 

Trump's request didn't seek cost estimates but figures provided Wednesday by the Haslam officials to the Times Free Press shows a price tag on the planned improvements of the highway and bridges is projected at $159.4 million. 

Haslam, meanwhile, is in the midst of his own pitching his own transportation and economic program, dubbed the IMPROVE ACT, that would raise an additional $296 million for state transportation, primarily through gas and diesel tax increases, to address 962 projects statewide. 

The state currently has a $6 billion backlog of previously approved projects and $4.5 billion worth of projects with no funding expected for years unless new dollars are forthcoming, Haslam has said.

In addition to U.S. 127, other projects on the list being forwarded to the Trump administration are:

* Alcoa Highway - Knox County/Blount County - $183.1 million
* Lamar Avenue - Memphis - $252 million
* I-440 - Nashville - $50 million
* State Route 109 - Wilson County - $18.5 million
* I-40 - Jackson - $66.3 million
* I-69 - Obion County - $236.7 million.


The lists being forwarded to the NGA at Trump officials' request was first reported by Bloomberg News.

During his campaign, Trump put a high priority on tackling aging U.S. infrastructure both in terms of need and fueling new jobs. He has talked about spending between $550 billion to $1 trillion but often in the context of using private-sector funding.

He addressed the need during his inaugural address last week. 

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer told Bloomberg, who is vice president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials, told Bloomberg News that he doesn't want the federal government changing states' traditional role in selecting what gets funded.

"I don't see any way that, federally, they can define projects for a state,'' Schroer said. "The federal government can't figure out what a state needs.''

Schroer also told Bloomberg he's skeptical that whatever plan emerges will include significant additional federal spending because he doesn't believe Congress would provide it. 

"I'm not overly encouraged that we're going to see a lot of help out of the federal government for a while,'' Schroer said. "There is no political will.''


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