TDOT Ranks High in New National Study

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 7/12/2013 7:17 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) -- The Tennessee Department of Transportation gets a pat on the back today for its pay-as-you-go construction program.
A CNBC study shows the state ranks number 2 in the nation for "transportation and infrastructure."
Translated---that means by the time TDOT finishes a project, its paid for.
But there could be trouble down the "road."

This road-widening project on highway 27 at the Olgiati bridge is a 104-million dollar job.
But when its done next year, it'll be paid for.
That's rare these days when all but 5 states have transportation debt and must allocate a large part of their funding to interest payments.

JENNIFER FLYNN, TDOT SPOKESPERSON "We fund our transportation in phases, we don't carry any transportation debt...when we complete a project , the project belongs to the citizens of Tennessee and it's the best use of tax-payer money."

TDOT commissioner John Schroer says its an affirmation of the agency's efforts to be innovative.
But there is a drawback.

JENNIFER FLYNN "The bad thing about that is sometimes it takes us a little bit longer to get projects done."

REP. VINCE DEAN, EAST RIDGE, CHMN. OF HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE "They are very frugal with taxpayer dollars..they do a fantastic job with what small amounts they have.

The highway funding comes primarily from a tax on fuel---and that source is dwindling.

REP. VINCE DEAN "We're constantly looking at ways to get better fuel efficient vehicles, well..when we do that we're still putting the same number of miles on the roads....we're still putting the same ware and tear on the highways."

REP. GERALD MCCORMICK, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADERS "If we keep going based on gas usage, or on miles driver..or if we have to go into the general fund to do some of those things..we may have to look at that at some point..but I'm not sure what the answer is..but I think we do need to start looking for it."

The CNBC study also ranks Tennessee high in the catagories of "workforce" and "cost of living".

Tennessee has been near the top in the annual study for 4 years in a row.
Commissioner Schroer says TDOT's goal is to be number one next year.

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