transportation

Legislator seeks state review after one school bus driver falls asleep, another charged with DUI

One Washington County school bus driver fell asleep at the wheel on Tuesday, leading to a mishap that sent several children to a hospital with minor injuries. On Wednesday, another Washington County school bus driver was arrested for DUI. On Friday, the county school superintendent, Kimber Halliburton, announced she had fired the system’s transportation director.

Now, state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) has asked the state Department of Education to review the school system’s safety procedures, reports WJHL TV.

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Haslam: Gas tax hike gives TN ‘a step up in the game’ under Trump’s infrastructure proposal

Gov. Bill Haslam says the state fuel tax increase approved by the legislature last year puts Tennessee in a good position to leverage federal transportation funding under the new infrastructure plan proposed by President Trump on Monday, reports Michael Collins.

The Trump proposal envisions $1.5 trillion in new investments in highways, bridges and mass transit over a 10-year period, but only $200 billion would be in new federal money – the rest in state and local funding or private investment, according to the New York Times. States would have to put in a bigger share of the money for projects, or get private investment, to trigger the new federal funding.

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Bill to give legislators oversight of airports stirs flap in Northeast TN

Legislation introduced by Rep. Matthew Hill and Sen. Steve Southerland would create a board of state legislators to oversee – and overrule, if they wish – decisions made by regional airport authorities. The bill involves the Tri-Cities Airport Authority’s use of a $4.1 million state grant and is stirring controversy in Northeast Tennessee.

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Nashville Council approves May referendum on $5.4B (or $8.9B) transit referendum

The Metropolitan Nashville Council has voted 34-2 to give final approval to adding Mayor Megan Barry’s transit referendum to the local primary election ballot on May 1, reports The Tennessean.

But bucking the administration, the council tweaked the referendum language to list both the transit proposal’s present-day cost of $5.4 billion as well as the estimated amount of long-term revenue needed for the project, $8.95 billion. The mayor’s office had lobbied for only the lower amount to go on the ballot. 

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TDOT says it’s ready to deal with winter storm

Press release from state Department of Transportation

NASHVILLEThe Tennessee Department of Transportation can assure motorists it is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow. In preparation for the winter season, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks.

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Nashville mayor joins new national group pushing city infrastructure investments

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, seen by some as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, is starting a nonprofit group with other mayors, union leaders and business executives to fund what they call innovation investments around the country, reports Politico. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who is pushing a $5.2 billion infrastructure investment including a 26-mile light rail system, is one of the members of an initial advisory group.

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TDOT chief to focus on fed road revenue in new role

News release from AASHTO

PHOENIX – The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Board of Directors today (Friday) elected Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, as the association’s president. Carlos Braceras P.E., executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation was elected Vice President and Scott Bennett, P.E., director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, was elected Secretary-Treasurer.

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Lawsuit challenges suspension of driving licenses for unpaid fines

A group of civil rights advocates has filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s suspension of more than 250,000 driver’s licenses affecting people too poor to pay traffic tickets, reports the Nashville Ledger.

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Bruce Saltsman, former TDOT commissioner, dies aged 87

John Bruce Saltsman Sr., who served served eight years as Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation, has died of cancer at his home. He was 87.

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Four school bus drivers face 30 days in jail for using electronic devices under new TN law

Four now-former Knox County school bus drivers who allegedly used electronic devices while behind the wheel face mandatory 30-day jail terms if convicted under a tough new law, reports the News Sentinel.

They are charged via recently unsealed grand jury presentments under a state law passed following the death of two Sunnyview Primary School students and a teacher’s aide in Knox County in December 2014 caused by a driver who was texting while driving.

The quartet of drivers are accused in separate incidents of using electronic devices — the exact nature of which hasn’t been revealed yet — during Knox County Schools’ spring semester.

The cases are Knox County’s first legal test of that law, and the second in the state. A Hamilton County grand jury in March leveled the charge — along with vehicular homicide — in a fatal school bus crash in Chattanooga in December 2016 that killed six children.

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