NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s no secret Tennessee is growing at a torrid pace.

“We have 121,000 people-plus going through I-40 every day, day in and day out,” Tennessee Dept. of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Butch Eley said. 

It’s also no secret to Eley that that growth is creating untenable traffic issues.

“What has happened for so long is we’ve had to break projects down into bite sizes and do them piecemeal because they were too large to do at any one time,” he said.

Enter the new transportation package, which Eley and Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) have affably dubbed the ‘Transportation Modernization Act.’

“It is a much-needed change that will allow us to keep our economy moving forward,” Lee said. “That will allow us to continue to grow as one of the fastest-growing states in the country.”

It’s a project that includes the controversial ‘choice lanes’ (or toll roads, depending on who you ask).

The question now becomes how long until the average driver sees any real difference?

The answer may disappoint you because, as Eley put it, it depends on the project.

“It’s going to obviously take a while to develop those and get those engineered,” he said of choice lanes.

For new projects, Eley told state Capitol reporter Chris O’Brien we’re likely looking at a minimum of 2025-2026 at least.

However, there’s also a huge backlog of current projects.

“We’re also going to be spending some of the additional dollars that the legislature provided – over $3 billion – to go ahead and expedite some of the projects that are in the current backlog and are even part of the Improve Act that’s already been passed,” Eley said.

The Improve Act dates back to Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R-Tennessee) administration.