TDOT talks gas tax proposal with local leaders

JACKSON, Tenn. — If Gov. Bill Haslam gets his gas tax increase, get ready for construction in Jackson and Madison County.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Paul Degges explained the proposal to local leaders on Thursday.

“Congestion is a big issue,” Degges said. “Access for Jackson is important.”

The governor’s transportation plan includes 962 projects, 23 of those in Madison County. Proposed projects include everything from bridge repairs to expanding Interstate 40.

“It’s beginning to show some wear and tear,” Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said. “We need to come back and do the right thing and get our transportation going.”

One of the projects Degges brought up was the possibility of a bypass in south Jackson.

“For long-term growth of the city, it’s just imperative,” Gist said.

Haslam originally proposed raising the tax on gasoline by 7 cents per gallon and diesel by 12 cents. “It would increase to the average Tennessean, the average car driver, about $4 a month,” Degges said.

The senate transportation committee voted to change the gas tax hike to 6 cents and diesel to 10 cents, phased in over three years. Haslam said he approves of the changes.

Haslam also proposed cutting the tax on groceries to help offset the gas tax cost.

If the bill passes, Degges said TDOT expects all 962 projects would either be complete or under construction within 12 to 15 years.

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