Tennessee Toll Lane, Road-Funding Bill Advances in Senate Committee

by Jon Styf


A bill to add toll lanes and fund future highway and road improvements in Tennessee passed a key Senate committee Tuesday.

The Tennessee Transportation Modernization Act passed the Finance, Ways and Means Committee with a 10-1 vote and will head to the full Senate after it goes through the Senate Calendar Committee. The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee is set to hear the companion House bill Wednesday.

Senate Bill 273 will open the door for toll lanes operated by private companies to build new lanes on the state’s highways and install tolling on those lanes. Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, presented the bill and said terms on the toll lanes will be negotiated, giving an example of an 80% to 20% split of road construction costs with a private company paying the larger portion and then getting the first dollars that come in from tolls.

“They will not just build it, they will have to keep it up to our standards,” Massey added.

The companies cannot be from four restricted countries – China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. The company will lease the lanes and the state will retain ownership.

Massey said the Tennessee Department of Transportation normally receives $500 million annually for construction and the state has more than a $26 billion backlog of road infrastructure work, which would take 52 years to complete using that funding if inflation did not exist.

The bill includes a one-time contribution of $3.3 billion to TDOT’s Transportation Modernization Fund to quicken road work. That number will be divided into approximately $750 million for each of the state’s three grand divisions.

It also includes a stipulation to have electric vehicles be charged a $200 registration fee starting next year that will rise to $274 and then begin rising with the consumer price index up to 3% annually starting in 2027. Hybrid vehicles will begin at $100 and rise in cost starting in 2027.

“We can’t tax our way out of this,” said Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston. “This is a great alternative that will solve some problems.”

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter of The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.




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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Toll Lane, Road-Funding Bill Advances in Senate Committee”

  1. Joe Blow

    Cannoneer – I do not often agree with you BUT this whole thing stinks of crony capitalism. With Bill Lee being the head crony.

  2. Joe Blow

    Follow the money… to Bill Lee supporters.

    We poor taxpayers are getting skewered on this deal. And there is no getting out of the consequences – ever – once the contracts are signed. Makes me really dislike those in the Assembly who are following along on this scam like lemmings over a cliff.

    I have personal experience with these toll lanes in Texas. They are a windfall for the construction companies and the politicians in the form of contributions who support this. Such constructions hems in any possible expansion by the state government.

    This is criminal.

  3. Cannoneertwo

    TN Legislature! Butch Eley and his roadbuilder buddies need cash! Proceed at all possible speed!

  4. This is a HUGE waste of money. Our highways are already congested, and now you want a company to come in and put up orange cones and barriers, taking up lanes of travel to put up a toll road that no one will use. Look no further than HOV lanes. Please TN legislature, don’t fall for this stupid crap.