New report by TACIR sheds light on infrastructure needs in Tennessee

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Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment in Johnson City.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tennessee needs about $55 billion worth of public infrastructure improvements over a period ending in June 2023, according to a report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).

This increase is for transportation and utilities from road projects being developed as part of the “Improve Act.”

One of the biggest fiscal challenges elected officials face is dealing with aging infrastructure.

Pheben Kassahun spoke with officials on how this study by TACIR helps to speed up the process for improvements in the Tri-Cities.

“One of the benefits of this data is that it lets local governments, legislatures, governors office. It lets them know what the needs are and to quantify them,” Ken Rea said.

Ken Rea is the deputy director for First Tennessee Development District. He said counties like Sullivan and Washington have more needs compared to smaller ones, like Hancock and Johnson counties.

The report by the TACIR focuses on a period between July 2018 and June 2023, on public infrastructure like transportation and utilities, education and health.

“From the water and sewer side, we have some very good utilities in our region,” Rea said.

Thanks to the Improve Act and the TACIR report funding is provided more quickly.

“The reality of a situation is, as soon as you repair a mile a line, there’s a mile somewhere else, starting to degrade, so you’re constantly having to put money back into it,” Rea said.

Along with water and sewer services and education, transportation projects will get a boost.

Mark Nagi explained, “There will be increased work on State Route 126 widening project, in the upper east. That’s one of those projects that people have been concerned about for a long time. That’s a project that will be able to get underway again, much sooner because we have that increased funding in place.”

Mark Nagi, the community relations officer for TDOT said funding is in place before moving onto any state for each project. They do so without having to take out loans.

“That means we don’t get the projects as soon as we would like to,” Nagi said. “The positives certainly means that we’re not going to be paying long for these projects, 20 or 30 years down the line.”

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