Tennessee drivers react to TDOT’s proposed paid express lanes

WSMV's Tosin Fakile has the latest on the proposal.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:19 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee drivers have mixed reactions to Department of Transportation’s “Choice Lanes,” a proposal to improve congestion in the state.

Choice Lanes, which is part of TDOT’s public-private partnerships, are paid express lanes that drivers can choose to take at a price to get to their destination quicker.

TDOT said since gas taxes won’t be raised and there’s a lack of revenue to build, they looked at states like Georgia, Florida, Texas and Virginia at how they solved congestion issues, and that’s part of what led TDOT’s proposal of Choice Lanes.

“I think it will be a great idea to try it here,” said Jay Horner a resident of Nashville.

Horner, a transplant to Nashville from a bigger city, liked the idea, especially for people after a long day at work.

“Absolutely. I think some people will prefer it and a lot of people might be against it, but at the end of the day you pay for what you get,” Horner said. “You want to get home faster? Just pay the thing.”

Graceann and Landry Witt aren’t completely sold on the idea of Choice Lanes.

“I guess we just need to know a little bit more about what’s the end game, how is it going to help everybody in the end game? I’d be happy to budget for it,” Graceann Witt said.

TDOT said Choice Lanes would typically use price or vehicle eligibility to make the lanes perform better than general lanes.

When it comes to the price drivers would pay for choice lanes, TDOT said it can control pricing policy and price can increase or decrease to maintain the lanes’ reliability

And Horner doesn’t mind a couple extra dollars.

“Maybe it’s a $6, $5 difference to get home and it’s easier versus living in bigger states like New York or the Bay Area or Seattle, you pay $14 to $18 just to get on those toll roads,” Horner said.

WSMV 4 reached to the Tennessee Road Builders Association to get their thoughts on TDOT’s solutions for the roads. They sent this statement:

“The Tennessee Road Builders Association is supportive of efforts to upgrade our transportation infrastructure to reduce congestion; improve safety; and to provide economic development opportunities. Specifically, we have been and remain committed to supporting funding to 6-lane (3 lanes in each direction) our rural Interstates and to add significant capacity to our state’s urban transportation networks. TRBA looks forward to a robust conversation with the administration and the legislature on this important issue.” -- Kent D. Starwalt, Executive Vice President, Tennessee Road Builders Association

TDOT said options like Choice Lanes will free up state dollars that will go to improve rural roads and interstates in rural areas.

TDOT hasn’t really nailed anything down just yet. Right now, they are asking legislators for the authority to look into Choice Lanes.

WSMV 4 checked with Georgia Department Of Transportation to see if drivers use their “Peach Pass,” which is similar to TDOT’s Choice Lanes idea. GDOT reports it saw over 62,688 new Peach Pass users in 2021 and more than 226,388 new Peach Pass users in 2019.