Lee roads proposal: toll lanes, public-private partnerships, raising fees on electric vehicles

Gov. Bill Lee speaks in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is unveiling some of the proposals it plans to introduce as part of a major overhaul of Tennessee’s highway system.

According to a newly launched website called Build With Us, the Transportation Department sees several “solutions” to addressing a growing funding shortfall to address worsening congestion on state roads. They include:

— Public-Private Partnerships: Having private companies build and maintain new roads in urban areas will allow the state to spend more on rural initiatives like adding a lanes to interstates.

— “Choice” lanes: Creating toll lanes along existing routes to give drivers the option of paying to bypass slower traffic.

— Electric vehicle fees: Finding ways to charge all types of vehicles equally. Electric vehicles currently pay a $100 annual fee to drive on Tennessee roads while official estimate gas-powered vehicles pay an average of about $300 in combined state and federal fuel taxes.

— Delivery updates: Speeding up the way road projects are move from the planning and bidding phases to construction.

— Staff pay: Eliminating unfilled positions at the Transportation Department and spending the $34 million on raising salaries for remaining workers to market rates.


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