transportation

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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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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Cohen wins battle in crusade against shrinking airplane seat space

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen failed last year in an attempt to pass legislation blocking airlines from shrinking the seating space on commercial flights, but this week won approval from a House committee of the proposal as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, reports the Memphis Business Journal.

“Oftentimes in Congress, like in life, things don’t always happen the first time,” Congressman Cohen said.

Cohen’s press release on the committee vote is HERE

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 differs with Trump, Beavers on highway funding

Gov. Bill Haslam, who toured the state Monday for ceremonial signings of his “IMPROVE Act,” declared along way that he’s not too keen on President Trump’s infrastructure plans — or on state Sen. Mae Beavers declaring she’ll push to repeal of the IMPROVE fuel tax hikes if elected to succeed him as governor.

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