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Transportation Infrastructure Will Highlight 2023 Session

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley MD R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other area counties The 2023 Legislative Session is set to begin on January 10, 2023. Lawmakers will address many different topics and issues in this first session of the 113th General Assembly.

Gov. Lee recently held budget hearings where government agencies provided updates on their budgets and identified future needs. Transportation funding and infrastructure needs emerged as a significant need facing the state. As Tennessee continues to grow, our transportation infrastructure needs and improvements also grow.

Lee has announced he plans to focus on developing a strategy to invest in Tennessee’s transportation network in rural and urban areas, which will provide more opportunities and a higher quality of life.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation highlighted a clear need to meet demands of a growing list of transportation projects. In the 2023 legislative session, the General Assembly will discuss these issues and consider various solutions. TDOT has identified a $34 billion need for infrastructure projects statewide.

Currently, the state spends $1.2 billion annually to maintain current infrastructure, with about $500 million allocated for new construction projects.

On the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee, we will look at needs of TDOT and weigh options of how a long-term, strategic plan can ensure Tennessee is able to meet growing infrastructure needs while also maintaining conservative fiscal management of the state’s budget. In budget hearings, TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley highlighted three main areas of challenge facing Tennessee’s transportation system: congestion, delivery, and workforce. Traffic in Tennessee’s urban areas is getting denser. A congestion study of Tennessee’s four main urban areas identified $26 billion in needed projects that directly relate to congestion. Without major improvements, it is estimated that intracity commute times will increase by 60% and intercity travel times between major Tennessee cities will increase by up to one hour. Eley noted that congestion is a statewide issue, not just an urban one. He noted that two-lane interstates which run through rural areas are heavily traveled and need to be upgraded to three lanes. Delivery times for projects to be completed is also lagging, according to Eley.

The average completion time for a TDOT project is 15 years, but Eley says the state needs to cut that to 5 years. A faster completion rate will not only save taxpayers money, especially since the prices of materials are rising due to inflation, but it will also allow the state to complete more projects. One way to improve delivery times is to invest in a good workforce. TDOT currently has a 20% vacancy rate for jobs. Commissioner Eley said that increasing the pay for these dangerous jobs will help close gaps in the workforce. Electric Vehicles Ownership of electric vehicles in the state of Tennessee is growing, but it remains an insignificant percentage of the total registered vehicles in the state – only 0.2% or 16,300 electric vehicles.

However, the state-led Drive Electric Tennessee coalition projects that electric vehicles registered in Tennessee will quickly grow to 200,000 by 2028, which would be 3% of the total registered vehicles.

With 3% of registered vehicles paying no gas tax to use Tennessee’s roads, the state could lose $40 million in revenue. This projected loss in revenue will warrant discussion among lawmakers in the upcoming session.

States across the country are experiencing this same issue, and there are a range of different options lawmakers might consider to remedy the revenue loss

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, by phone at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His home address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462; by telephone at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823, or by e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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