The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee is holding a meeting today in Sevierville to educate Sevier County as to the need for a comprehensive reform that is a long-term, sustainable solution that will meet identified transportation needs in Sevier County and across the state.
The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 at the Sevierville Civic Center, 200 Gary Wade Blvd. in Sevierville. The meeting is open to the public.
The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee is an organization whose diverse members are businesses, community leaders, public officials and other organizations with an interest in the state’s reform of transportation and infrastructure funding. Members include the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance, American Automobile Association (AAA), Tennessee Public Transportation Association, Tennessee Municipal League, AARP, and Tennessee Trucking Association.
“We can no longer keep up with the maintenance needs of our state roads and bridges, much less build new projects,” says Susie Alcorn, executive director of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance. “Failure to address this issue means unsafe roads and bridges and lost economic development opportunities for our state and residents.”
According to a 2014 report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Sevier County needs $310 million to address its transportation projects.
Read the transportation study released in January 2015 entitled Tennessee Transportation Funding: Challenges and Options for more information about options for Tennessee’s transportation and infrastructure needs.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a backlog of $8.5 million for funding for necessary projects to keep roads and bridges safe.
Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have been visiting select cities across the state to discuss transportation and infrastructure needs with local officials and business leaders, and to boost support for raising the gas tax to fund those needs. The gas tax has not been raised in 25 years. The closest meeting to Sevier County is planned for Knoxville.
“We know that we can’t depend on the federal government to be the funding partner that it once was,” Haslam said. “We also know that as our infrastructure ages, maintenance becomes more important and more expensive. And we know that maintaining our roads is only part of the equation. Right now we have a multi-billion dollar backlog of highway projects across this state that address key access, safety and economic development issues and that’s only going to grow.”
Americans for Prosperity, the political activism hammer of billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch, vows to fight any increase in the gas tax. They effectively stopped Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan that would have expanded Medicaid in the state using federal money available through the Affordable Care Act and denied health coverage to nearly 300,000 Tennesseans.