Reducing Tennessee traffic comes with big price tag, TDOT says

With population in Tennessee rising, bigger roadways are needed to reduce traffic, but the changes would come at a price.
With population in Tennessee rising, bigger roadways are needed to reduce traffic
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:43 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Traffic jams are getting worse in East Tennessee, but the state wants to ease the traffic headaches.

Tennessee Department of Transportation officials recognized Tennessee has a major congestion problem. They are working on some possible solutions, but it has a hefty price tag.

TDOT officials said it would take $26 billion to address the traffic issue. That money could be used for expanding highways and possibly adding toll roads.

“Our roads just really can’t handle the increased volume,” said State Senator Becky Massey, who also chairs the Transportation and Safety Committee.

State data shows that the population in Tennessee is up 9% in the past 10 years, adding to the congestion.

Massey said toll lanes and expanded highways are possibilities to fund future projects, but Massey will only support toll lanes or roads where people have another choice to get to where they’re going.

“I personally cannot support anything that would be the only way to get there,” Massey said.

How will TDOT raise all the necessary money?

Governor Bill Lee has said that he has no intentions of raising the gas tax. Senator Massey believes the state has to find ways to fund the infrastructure projects.

“The funds that we’re getting from the user fee at the gas pump is just not enough because of the inflation that we got, the higher cost of building roads,” Massey said.

TDOT officials also want to limit the amount of time it takes to complete projects from the current average of 15 years, down to five years.

TDOT needs $26 billion to reduce traffic in Tennessee