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Report details Tennessee's infrastructure needs

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said transportation needs are among his top concerns. (The Trucker file photo)

The Associated Press

10/18/2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  — A report released by a state commission says Tennessee needs $38 billion between now and 2015 to improve public infrastructure.

The report, released by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, shows what type of improvements are needed, from repairing roads and bridges to adding additional water lines and sewers.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/Ws0ZZJ ) that the study is designed to help local officials with short- and long-term planning, match limited funding with critical needs and increase public awareness in cities about their public infrastructure networks.

Transportation projects are the state's biggest need. There are nearly 4,000 transportation and utility projects needed across Tennessee, totaling $19.1 billion, according to the report.

Schools, and health, safety and welfare projects, also are needed statewide.

In Middle Tennessee, there are at least $10 billion in projects that officials say are important, from work on roads and bridges to a $270 million upgrade to Nashville's sewer system.

In Wilson County, Mayor Randall Hutto said transportation needs are among his top concerns.

Hutto cited road-widening projects for state routes 109, 141 and 231. They are needed not only to keep up with the county's expanding population, but also to improve safety, he said.

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"No. 1, we have to make a decision in the county that we are going to be ahead of the growth," Hutto said. "We have made that commitment to make sure we have proper schools built. We have to do the same thing in transportation."

For schools, $8 billion in new construction or renovations are needed by 2015 in Tennessee. The $8 billion is a 4.3 percent increase from last year's report.

The report also shows a need for sewers and water treatment plant projects. Those total $7.3 billion statewide and are up 6.3 percent from the year before.

Nearly two-thirds of the projects in the inventory are not fully funded, the report found. Outside of school renovation and construction, the report found nearly $30 billion in needed work. Only $10.7 billion is for fully funded projects, according to the report.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean says the city has put money into water and sewer projects and increased the bonding capacity in the water department to pay for such work.

"I think every American city no matter what size needs to be constantly investing in infrastructure," Dean said Thursday. "I think that is one of the weaknesses exposed in our country in the last 10 years."

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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