TDOT execs update major state projects

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Roads always get a lot of attention on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.

That was again the case today as state transportation officials updated critical projects that affect just about everyone across Tennessee.

“We had 962 projects that were in the IMPROVE Act,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright told the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday.

He added that means a project planned or underway in every one of Tennessee’s 95-counties.

The projects are funded mainly by an increase in the state’s gas tax or IMPROVE Act that went into effect three years ago.

“We got a good kick in the pants from a financial standpoint to help us out and deliver projects,” said TDOT’s chief engineer Paul Degges.

He added expectations to finish the projects on time are “very, very sky-high.”

Degges said the reconstruction of Nashville’s I-440 is going to meet its finish date in six months.

“Things are going quite well in the project and we expect to meet that date,” Degges told the Senate committee.

The chief engineer then turned to an upper east Tennessee project under contract since last spring.

“In Washington County I-26 and state route 354 there is a huge interest locally in getting this project–lots of congestion,” said Degges.

Knoxville Senator Becky Massey said during the presentation that the IMPROVE act sped up the area’s Alcoa highway project.

“It increased the speed of it by about 12-years or something,” said the senator to the TDOT officials.

In Shelby County, land purchases were a major part of the U-S Highway 78 project.

“The interesting part of this project was the right of way cost came very close to the construction costs,” said TDOT’s chief engineer.

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