Rather than raise the gas tax or other fees, the Tennessee Department of Transportation would like those at the local level to lower expectations on future projects.
Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said the DOT was looking at close to an $8.5 billion backlog, and would rather see work scaled back before placing a heavier financial burden on motorists. The effort is an attempt to give life to projects that have long been put on hold, as long as officials can cut pricing. Schroer said the failure to comply could result in projects taking another 27 years to complete.
Tennessee is one of five states that are not facing a transportation debt, and the DOT is looking at a $1.8 billion budget in 2014. Schroer also ruled out issuing bonds.
This year, five projects had their original budgets slashed in exchange for immediate funding. In the city of Bolivar, for example, officials went with a bypass instead of a ring road.
MAP-21 expires in September 2014, and Schroer does not believe members of Congress will have anything ready as a replacement, meaning states will have even less money to build with from the federal government.