700+ approved TDOT projects await funding

The longer the delay, the more expensive the project ends up being.
WSMV's Courtney Allen reports.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:16 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - More than two and a half years after the Tennessee Department of Transportation got approval for a road project that would bypass downtown Clarksville, the project is still on pause. The holdup? There is no funding for it. WSMV 4 learned this is just one of hundreds of projects in line.

TDOT gets money every year for new construction, but the department said it is not nearly enough to cover all the approved road projects they have. The longer the delay, the more expensive the project ends up being.

Some avoid driving through Clarksville due to traffic. To cut down congestion, TDOT approved an extension of State Route 374. TDOT said the project will divert away from downtown and improve access to Fort Campbell and other major employers. “Once it is up and running, I think it will be great,” Clarksville resident William Lyons said.

It has now been more than two and a half years since the project was approved, but construction hasn’t started. TDOT said it is one of more than 700 projects that have been approved with no funding to get the ball rolling. In fact, TDOT said on average, it is taking them 15 years to complete projects.

TDOT spokesperson Rebekah Hammonds said each year, the department gets around $1 billion for road projects and maintenance. Then, they have to decide which ones to fund. “There are so many projects waiting in line vying for the same small bucket of money,” Hammonds said.

Governor Bill Lee’s Transportation Modernization Act, which is currently being debated at the capitol, would give TDOT an addition $3.3 billion to increase the number of projects they can do.

Clarksville drivers are ready to see some movement. “Hopefully it will speed up eventually,” Lyons said.

TDOT said its goal is to get projects done in an average of five years as opposed to 15. Since projects are dragging out, TDOT said they are costing 40 percent more than what was budgeted thanks to inflation and rising construction costs. The longest unfunded project they have started back in 1986.