TDOT commissioner visits Hub City, talks road ahead for transportation department

JACKSON, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner stopped in Jackson Thursday to discuss the road ahead for projects and improvements in our area.

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 5.47.31 PMTDOT Commissioner John Schroer says his goal was to emphasize the importance of being efficient in spending when it comes to state roads because an efficient transportation department is good for the state economy.

The commissioner along with local and state leaders met at the Old Country Store to talk roads in West Tennessee.

“We went back and analyzed every project that we have, or almost every project, and we said ‘OK, I know this is what communities wanted, but is it truly what they need?'” Commissioner Schroer said.

Schroer said the department was able to avoid spending more than $610 million by evaluating roadway priorities.

Schroer says one thing TDOT projects won’t do is put the state in debt.

“[Tennessee is] one of only five states in the nation that has no debt, which makes it even harder to maintain and do the thing that we do and have good, quality roads because we’re a pay-as-you-go state,” Schroer said.

State tourism brings $18 billion to Tennessee annually, and with 93 percent of tourists traveling by automobile, smooth roads are important.Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 5.47.54 PM

“We don’t want roads like that,” State Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said. “We want roads where people can drive safely, kids be safe, get to their destination, enjoy what they want to see and come back safe.”

Everyone was given a project list outlining more than $600 million of work in just West Tennessee.

TDOT projects already are underway here in Madison County. Just outside Casey Jones Village, work has started on a road project that includes Interstate 40 and the intersection of the 45 Bypass and Carriage House Drive.

“It’s going to be great for our state, our community, because Casey Jones Village, Old Country Store, is one of the top-10 tourist spots in Tennessee,” State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, R-Jackson, said. “We want to keep tourism alive and well and active in our state.”

Commissioner Schroer says before the revaluation they had $6 million in uncompleted projects. He expects Gov. Bill Haslam to present a comprehensive transportation plan to the legislature in January.

Tennessee is ranked second best in the country for its infrastructure, according to Business Facilities Magazine.

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