Major roadway projects to begin soon thanks to IMPROVE Act

Local

A gas tax increase that went into effect last year will soon pay off on two big road projects in the Tri-Cities.

Last year, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the IMPROVE Act into law, creating a long-term dedicated funding source to fix nearly 1,000 of the state’s roads and bridges.

Part of the IMPROVE Act includes a gas tax increase.
Four cents was added last year and another hike is happening within the coming weeks.

If you’ve driven on Interstate 26, you’ve probably noticed how bumpy it is, especially from Exits 17 to 24.

It’s set to be resurfaced in the coming weeks all thanks to the IMPROVE Act.

“Because of the IMPROVE Act, it means we can get to a lot of these projects much quicker,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer Mark Nagi.

He said it’s just one of many projects under the IMPROVE Act.

“The IMPROVE Act will allow the Tennessee Department of Transportation to fund 962 projects in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties over a period of the next 13 to 14 years,” he said.

Nagi said if it weren’t for legislators passing this bill, these projects would not have been funded for another 30 years, if not longer.

Last year, on July 1, gas prices increased 4 cents, making the state tax on the gallon 24 cents.

On July 1 this year, it will go up to 25 cents and up to 26 cents in 2019.

Here is a map showing all of the projects in our area that will be funded by the IMPROVE Act.

One of the next major projects is an interchange modification project at Exit 17 and state route 354 in Boones Creek.

Nagi said work could begin in early 2019 if everything stays on schedule.

“We don’t move forward on any stage of a project without knowing that that funding is in place,” he said.

Bronson King said he doesn’t mind spending extra at the pump if it means fixing problem roads in the region.

“If they’re going to spend that money locally, I think that’d be great. I think that’d be awesome,” King said.

You’ll remember, Governor Haslam called the IMPROVE Act the largest tax cut in Tennessee history.
While gas prices increased, the tax rate on food and food ingredients decreased from 5% to 4%.

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