TDOT

New $2.5M anti-litter campaign: ‘Nobody Trashes Tennessee’ succeeds ‘Tennessee Trash’

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has launched a new anti-litter campaign under the slogan “Nobody Trashes Tennessee,” including a TV spot that is perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the old “Tennessee Trash” TV campaign, launched back in the late 1970s.

The “Tennessee Trash” commercial, which became fairly famous, featured a scruffy-looking fellow in a convertible throwing litter all over the landscape and a song including the line: “Ain’t no lower class than Tennessee trash.” Some argued it made the fellow sort of a role model rather than discouraging litter.

The latest TV spot features a young woman driver casually tossing a single drink cup and straw out her car window – then later shows her awakening as a wall caves in and a truck load of trash is dumped into her bedroom as the narrator talks about Tennessee’s litter problems.

Here is the old

Here is the new

TDOT has a news release HERE. The Times Free Press has an article on the new campaign, including some information on the research — including polling and focus groups – that led to its development. An excerpt:

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Haslam lists highway projects to be completed in next three years

News release from Department of Transportation

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer today released TDOT’s annual three year transportation program, featuring approximately $2.6 billion in infrastructure investments for 101 individual project phases in 40 counties, as well as 15 statewide programs.

The three-year program is more robust than previous years, due to funding increases through the IMPROVE Act, which is projected to raise an additional $150 million to meet the state’s infrastructure needs in FY 2018. This increase, combined with $120 million repayment to the highway fund, provides the necessary funds to move several backlogged and new transportation projects forward in the first year of the program. Those include:

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Dad tells legislators TDOT at fault in daughter’s death

In tearful testimony Tuesday, the father of a 17-year-old Lenoir City girl whose death was the result of an apparently defective guardrail demanded Tennessee lawmakers take action to prevent future deaths, reports The Tennessean.

Steven Eimers, the father of Hannah Eimers, gave an emotional presentation before the House Transportation Committee, blaming the culture within the Tennessee Department of Transportation and shoddy technology for his daughter’s death. He demanded new independent inspections of guardrails, felony charges for improperly installing them and incentives for state workers to report faulty installation and damage.

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Judge voids TN billboard regulation law

U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla of Memphis has declared Tennessee’s Billboard Regulation and Control Act unconstitutional, invalidating a law that has governed outdoor advertising in the state since 1972, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The ruling Friday came down on the side of Memphis billboard operator William H. Thomas Jr., who had alleged in a lawsuit that Tennessee Department of Transportation officials violated his constitutional rights in their efforts to remove a sign he constructed at the Interstate 40-240 interchange in East Memphis despite being denied a permit for it.

Although local governments often regulate billboards through zoning ordinances, McCalla’s decision potentially opens up vast areas of the state to unfettered proliferation of outdoor signs along highways. It also could result in a 10 percent cut in federal highway funds to Tennessee because the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 requires states to regulate billboards to federal standards.

The ruling follows a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down portions of an Arizona town’s sign ordinance on free-speech grounds, a case cited by McCalla. With the latest decision, similar litigation is likely to be lodged against other states’ billboard laws, say advocates of controls on outdoor advertising.

“It will also have an impact … far beyond Tennessee,” said William Brinton, an attorney who represented Scenic America, Scenic Tennessee and other groups seeking to preserve the billboard regulation law.

Thomas’ suit attracted allies among limited-government groups such as The Beacon Center of Tennessee, which say that billboard laws, by allowing regulatory exemptions for certain types of messages, impose undue “content-based” regulation of speech.

But advocates of billboard laws say the rules are needed as a means of protecting not just aesthetics but property values and possibly traffic safety.

TDOT bills dead teen for damaging guardrail that killed her

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has apologized to a Loudon County man for sending his dead daughter a bill for nearly $3,000 to replace the guardrail that killed her in a car crash last November, reports The Tennessean.

In addition to refusing to pay the bill, Steven Eimers alleges the model of guardrail end involved in his daughter Hannah’s death is “horribly designed” and dangerous, and that “the culture at TDOT is more concerned with making up catchy slogans than actual safety.”

TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said the bill was the result of “a mistake somewhere in processing,” and that TDOT “greatly apologizes for it.” The Eimers family does not have to pay, and another letter is being sent to explain the error, Nagi said.

Around 5:44 a.m. Nov. 1, Hannah Eimers, 17, was driving her father’s 2000 Volvo S80 on Interstate 75 North near Niota when the car left the road, traveled into the median and hit the end of the guardrail with the driver’s side door, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report.

Instead of deflecting the car or buckling to absorb the impact, the guardrail end impaled the vehicle, striking Hannah in the head and chest and pushing her into the back seat, according to the report. She died instantly.

The Volvo spun to the right anred “took out approximately 15 to 20 feet of guardrail” before it skidded to a stop…  Four months later, Hannah’s father received a $2,970 bill from TDOT, dated Feb. 24 and addressed to Hannah, for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail at the scene of the crash.

Eimers said he was “flabbergasted” that TDOT would “bill my daughter for the defective device that killed her.”

The guardrail end Hannah hit was a Lindsay X-LITE — a model that TDOT had removed from its approved products list just one week (before her death)r…. due to concerns “about how the telescoping w-beam, slider assembly friction reduction systems may perform if impacted at higher speeds” than 100 kph or 62.2 mph.

TDOT gives IMPROVE a SPOT online

In promoting Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax plan to IMPROVE Tennessee roads, the Department of Transportation’s website has a new feature – an interactive map of all projects that could be funded with more money. And, of course, it has a new acronym: SPOT (Statewide Project Overview Tracker).

It’s HERE. The welcoming message reads;

Welcome to the SPOT website. This website is designed to provide you with an interactive tool to navigate priority transportation projects across the State of Tennessee. This application is a project overview tracker of county, TDOT region, and legislative districts for you to view basic details for transportation infrastructure, safety and economic development in locations that are important to you.

The projects are also categorized by their program type describing the primary benefit they offer the public of the State of Tennessee.

Note: ICYMI, IMPROVE stands for Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy. TDOT is the Tennessee Department of Transportation (pronounced tee-dot).

TDOT worker, struck by car on Christmas Eve, dies of injuries (third TDOT fatality of 2016)

 

News release from Tennessee Department of Transportation

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Transportation HELP Operator James Rogers has died of complications resulting from injuries sustained when he was struck by a vehicle while assisting a stranded motorist on December 24.

Rogers was changing a flat tire for a family stranded on I-40 at mile marker 221 in Davidson County. A member of the family was assisting with the tire change, but Rogers advised him to go inside the car for safety purposes. Rogers was struck a few minutes later by a vehicle crossing onto the shoulder.

Rogers, 30, passed away on December 28. Rogers had a five-year-old son.

TDOT HELP Operators have routes on Tennessee’s most heavily traveled highways in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. The program began in 1999 for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion, improving safety, and assisting motorists in distress. The Region 3 HELP Operators in Middle Tennessee have responded to approximately 40,000 incidents in 2016.

Rogers is the third TDOT employee to be killed in the line of duty in 2016 and the 112th since the agency began keeping records in 1948

Note:  WTVF-TV reported earlier that a fundraising website had been set up to help Rogers’ family. This post updates and replaces an earlier post.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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