Road Projects Stalled While Senate Debates Highway Trust Fund

Road Projects Stalled While Senate Debates Highway Trust Fund

CREATED Jul 18, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A vote has been scheduled in Congress to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund. As a result, the Tennessee Department of Transportation can’t begin any new road projects until next year.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money August 1, unless Congress acts. The House has passed an $11 billion temporary fix but the money runs out in May 2015.

So far this year, 13 projects have been placed on hold, including a $37 million interchange at Interstate 65 and Highway 109 in Robertson County. They will stay on hold until Congress corrects the problem.

"I've got an 8 Billion dollar back log on projects that we need to build and we're trying to find all sorts of ways to build roads more economically, but in the big scope of things funding is critical,” said John Schroer, Commissioner of TDOT.

The issue has become a concern all over the country.

The trust fund depends on gasoline taxes, but there hasn't been an increase in the tax in more than 20 years. Over the years cars and trucks have become more fuel efficient.

“I think anybody who thinks we can keep doing what we're doing now and having the same quality we have now is kidding themselves,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

As the leader of one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean sees trouble ahead. Earlier in the week, he stood in front of a bus hit with cement to symbolize the danger a deteriorating bridges on vehicles passing underneath.

It was part of a nationwide campaign calling on Congress to fund the highway trust fund.

“Let me also stress that I see this as an issue as being bipartisan. I think everyone agrees for the US to remain a great country we have to be a country that invests in our future and invests in the fundamentals and that is infrastructure,” said Dean.

If Congress passes a temporary fix TDOT Officials said the 13 projects on hold in Tennessee would be set for construction in December.

Commissioner Schroer said with money running out in May, other projects scheduled to begin next year would have to be delayed.