Franklin mayor’s resolution will ask legislature to help fund roads


Franklin mayor’s resolution will ask legislature to help fund roads

Knowing the state needs more funding initiatives for transportation, city officials passed a resolution Tuesday night that would ask the General Assembly to concentrate on finding a sustainable funding source for Tennessee’s roads.

Knowing the state needs more funding initiatives for transportation, city officials passed a resolution Tuesday night that would ask the General Assembly to concentrate on finding a sustainable funding source for Tennessee’s roads.

Sitting on eight different committees, Mayor Ken Moore said he strives to have Franklin in the conversation when it comes to roads. If nothing’s done, he fears gridlock for the city by 2035.

BOMA’s resolution asks state representatives and its senator to identify ongoing funding for transportation and find a mechanism to keep pace with inflation. Currently, the state relies heavily on its gasoline tax, which hasn’t changed since 1989.

It also asked to allow for a local option for dedicated revenue to fund local transportation and transit initiatives. Right now, Franklin’s in the middle of its comprehensive transportation study along with evaluating how to intertwine transit opportunities into the Cool Springs corridor.

Franklin resident and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said he supported the board’s decision to bring an item like this forward.

“At the end of the day, there has to be increased funding for transportation,” Schroer said. “It’s a tough subject these days. We are trying to show everyone the needs across the state. I think people need to be aware that road projects cost money, and we have to find a way to fund these things. We are just now trying to educate everybody.”

After getting more guidance from Congress and federal funding, TDOT and the state legislature have a better idea of what money Tennessee will receive. As it sits right now, there are $6.1 billion in backlogged projects across 62 counties. In Williamson, there are seven. If TDOT did nothing but work on backlogged projects, they wouldn’t be completed until 2034.

The state would have to spend $5.3 billion for the new project needs, which include state routes and local bridges. Together these projects span across 59 counties, and Williamson County has 16 of those needs. Between backlogged and new, Williamson County would need $457 million to complete road and bridge projects.

“I can’t solve half of Williamson County’s problems with a one-time funding bill,” Schroer said.

Mack Hatcher, State Route 96 Road reconstruction, interchange work at the Moores Lane exit and Columbia Pike are a few among the list of projects needing completion. The East Main Street Bridge across the Harpeth River also needs work, along with Third Avenue over the Harpeth, Columbia Pike over a CSX railroad and Columbia Pike over the West Harpeth River.

Mack Hatcher Parkway has everything waiting and aligned for its expansion. Right now, it just needs funding. When asked if any work could start in the next year or 2017, Schroer said he wasn’t sure.

“You would have to ask your legislator that question,” he said.

Among the audience, only one local legislator made back it to Franklin for the BOMA meeting after a day on the General Assembly floor. Sen. Jack Johnson said he tries to work closely with his local government and wanted to know what Schroer had to say to BOMA.

“I think the governor and the commissioner are doing a good job of articulating the problem,” he said. “Ultimately, we have to look and determine how we build more assets and figure how we are going to pay for it. The governor hasn’t proposed a solution yet. There is no proposal on the table.”

Both Schroer and Johnson said Tennessee’s transportation issues have been brewing for the last decade. The two agreed that it was best for this legislative session to formulate plans.

A gas tax hike has been tossed around. Rep. Charles Sargent has also created a bill that would give back money to TDOT that was owed during the Gov. Phil Bredesen administration in the mid 2000s. Schroer said he would also like to figure how to implement electric cars into the mix along with evaluating any type of tax based on how many miles an individual drivers.

“It’s a multifaceted problem, and it’s going to need a multifaceted solution,” Johnson said. “It’s getting worse because we have more and more fuel efficient cars. They are driving the same number of miles, but paying less tax. People are paying half the money they did 20 years to maintain the roads they are driving on.”

Emily West covers Franklin for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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