KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Governor Bill Lee said he is making Tennessee roads one of his biggest priorities.
In a presentation Thursday, the Tennessee Department of Transportation‘s commissioner said that in some instances a 30-minute commute today could be an hour-and-a-half commute in the future as the state’s population continues to grow.
To address congestion and population growth, Lee wants to speed up the time it takes to build roads as it takes around 15 years for a new road to be complete within the state. Within the next few weeks, Lee’s administration plans to introduce the Transportation Modernization Act of 2023 to help solve this issue.
“As Tennessee continues to experience tremendous growth, we have an obligation to make strategic transportation investments that prepare our state for continued success – without raising taxes or going into debt,” Lee said. “Our infrastructure plan will prepare Tennessee communities, both rural and urban, for increased economic advantages and improved mobility in the years ahead. I look forward to partnering with members of the General Assembly to solve transportation challenges.”
Lee’s plan hopes to ensure TDOT has the resources it needs to solve “the state’s current and future mobility challenges.” Solutions with the plan include allowing private investment in new urban roadway infrastructure and expanding the alternative delivery model. According to the governor’s office, using private investment for urban areas would allow the state to reserve funds for rural infrastructure projects.
“Tennessee is facing a critical juncture when it comes to transportation and mobility,” TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley said. “Our infrastructure investments will ensure that TDOT has the tools needed to quickly deliver and maintain quality roads so that Tennesseans and commerce can move across our state, all while saving taxpayer dollars.”
Another solution offered by Lee includes something he is calling “Choice Lanes.” He has brought up these lanes several times as one piece of a larger infrastructure plan that he endorsed in his re-election campaign. The lanes would cost a few dollars and act as express lanes for drivers. Lee said they looked at similar programs in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. The hope is the lanes would reduce congestion and lead to faster travel.
More information about the “Build with Us” plan can be found here.