IMPROVE Act means more money coming for road improvements

BLOUNTVILLE, TN (WJHL-TV) – There were press conferences across the state of Tennessee, including in upper East Tennessee, to talk about road and bridge improvements through the IMPROVE Act.

The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee held a series of news conferences today to discuss the impact of the IMPROVE Act’s projects on different areas of the state. As part of the series, press conferences were held to detail how specific projects will affect Washington County and Sullivan County residents.

“We do have the road funding improvements here in Tennessee and I think that is something that is really needed. We’re one of the few states in the nation, one of the two or three that actually has every road paid for, every bridge paid for, and I think the conservative approach, don’t spend money you don’t have, so if we want to continue having some of the best roads in the nation, then this is what we ought to do.”, former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said.

The IMPROVE Act creates a long-term, dedicated funding source to fix outdated transportation infrastructure by making a modest increase to the user fees on its roads and bridges while providing a tax cut to the grocery, business and Hall income taxes. The increase in the user fees means Tennessee residents won’t shoulder the entire burden alone, as revenue will be captured from visiting tourists and the trucks that move goods through the state. This continues Tennessee’s history as a pay-as-you-go state, meaning the people who use the roads pay for their upkeep.
Ramsey added, “Maybe the best part of all of this is that fully half of the increase that has been passed now, is funded by out of state tuckers and tourists. We have a lot of people coming thru the state of Tennessee and so I think that is the reason that it needs to be a user fee, not taking out of the general fund as some had proposed, I think that would have been a major mistake.”

The IMPROVE Act prioritizes 962 projects across all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, addressing a $10.5 billion backlog in repairs and updates. The legislation also includes a local option for municipalities to hold their own referendums for tax increases to fund local transportation needs and provides property tax relief to veterans and the elderly.

The total impact for Washington Co. is $22,034,636 in combined revenue for cities and counties as well as TDOT’s road and bridge projects totaling $72,486,008 from the IMPROVE Act over the next 15v years and the total impact for Sullivan Co. is $34,428,420 in combines revenue for cities and counties as well as TDOT’s road and bridge projects totaling $232,157,000 from the IMPROVE Act.

“Bottom line, what we’re trying to accomplish is to make sure we get a conservative approach, that we are cutting taxes as well as improving roads, and make sure that when we look back a few years from now, all of our roads are still paid for and we don’t have debt.”, Ramsey said.

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