Jan 27, 2022 - News

Tennessee infrastructure needs now $61.9B

Illustration of Tennessee state surrounded by scaffolding.
Illustration: Allie Carl and Maura Losch/Axios

Tennessee's growing list of infrastructure needs has hit a price tag of $61.9 billion.

  • Driven by transportation, utilities, and education projects, needs expanded by about $3.4 billion over the last year, according to a new report from the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).
  • It marks the sixth year in a row the total has increased.

Why it matters: The latest TACIR report reflects long-needed improvements to roads, bridges, and wastewater systems, as well as new needs spurred by rapid growth.

What they're saying: "There are a number of projects related to infrastructure that's deteriorated over the years," TACIR executive director Cliff Lippard told a panel of lawmakers this week. "A lot of the projects that are in the public infrastructure inventory are related to economic development wins."

By the numbers: The three top project types identified in the report are transportation ($34.1 billion), higher education ($6.6 billion), and school renovations ($5.3 billion).

  • Technology needs grew by $99 million, an 88% jump over the previous year, partly in response to the pandemic.
  • More than two-thirds of the needs identified in the report were not yet funded, although officials said more funding is typically secured as projects moved forward.

Driving the news: Infrastructure became a priority nationwide after President Biden signed a $1.2 trillion spending package last year.

  • Officials expect Tennessee will get $8 billion to support road construction, public transportation, and bridge repairs, among other things.
  • That's on top of the $1.3 billion in pandemic stimulus funds the state is using for wastewater improvements and $500 million for broadband.

What's next: Gov. Bill Lee is expected to include other infrastructure projects in his legislative priorities this year, which will be announced next Monday during the State of the State address.

  • "Given Tennessee's strong fiscal position, we have the opportunity to propose significant investments in road projects to prepare the state for continued growth," Lee spokesperson Casey Black tells Axios.
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