Senate Transportation Committee Works to Reduce Traffic Congestion
This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall and Maury counties.
Legislation to modernize Tennessee’s infrastructure and address traffic congestion, prolonged project delivery timelines, and the deteriorating revenue stream for road funding advanced in the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee.
Senate Bill 273, dubbed the Transportation Modernization Act of 2023, is one of Gov. Bill Lee’s key legislative proposals and seeks to address a $26 billion backlog of congestion-related needs.
Transportation and mobility in Tennessee, are important. We live in a state with so much going on, and it’s a direct result of our sound economic policies, high quality of life, and ranking as one of the lowest taxed states in the country.
While this yields economic opportunity, it also challenges our ability to move people, goods, and services more seamlessly across our state.
Our position as a critical artery of commerce necessitates our focus to ensure freight, visitors and citizens get where they need to be on time.
The Transportation Modernization Act addresses these needs while maintaining Tennessee’s fiscally responsible management of state funds.
This major legislation issues no new taxes, no road debt and ensures that funds are proportionally allocated to urban and rural areas.
Tennessee is a pay-as-you-go state, meaning we don’t borrow money to build our roads.
The legislation would allow the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to form partnerships with private entities to create choice lanes to address congestion.
Choice Lanes allow drivers to decide whether to use existing free lanes or pay an additional user fee to enter new lanes for a guaranteed minimum speed.
No fee would be charged to use general purpose lanes and the number of general purpose lanes would not be reduced.
Choice lanes provide additional capacity in heavily congested corridors, benefiting those who use the choice lanes and those who remain in the general purpose lanes.
In free, general purpose lanes, data has shown in other states their traffic is reduced by about 30%.
Alternative Delivery Model
The legislation expands TDOT’s ability to use alternative delivery contracting, which has been proven to save time and money when used for the right projects.
The move would put TDOT in a strong position to optimize the delivery of increasingly complex infrastructure solutions.
TDOT’s alternative delivery program has saved $22 million and resulted in 70% faster delivery compared to the traditional delivery model.
Electric Vehicle Parity
Additionally, the legislation addresses the eroding effect that the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles will have on the state’s gas tax collection.
It establishes parity between what drivers of combustible engine vehicles and their EV and hybrid counterparts pay in gas taxes by increasing the registration fee for EVs to $200 for the first three years following passage and $274 by 2026. For hybrid vehicles, a $100 fee would be set immediately following passage.
Transportation Modernization Fund
This bill establishes the Transportation Modernization Fund and invests $3.3 billion to fund critical infrastructure projects in rural and urban area.
Each of TDOT’s four regions would receive $750,000,000, while the State Aid Program, which provides funds to counties for local transportation projects, would receive $300 million. At the rate of investment of $29 million per year, it would take 15 years to allocate $300 million to the State Aid Program. It is estimated our congestion costs Tennessee road users $800 million in lost productivity each year.
Sen. Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN. 37243 or by calling 615-741-3100, caling toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by faxing 615-253-0231.
His district addrress is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN. 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823 and his e-mail is: sem. joey hensley @capitol.tn.gov