November 16, 2021
It's Tuesday and we are ready to get the day started with you.
Today's weather: Clear and temperate with a high of about 69.
Today's newsletter is 796 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Tennessee's infrastructure haul
Tennessee is poised to receive billions of dollars in federal funding through the bipartisan infrastructure bill President Biden signed yesterday.
- U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, tells Axios the bill represents the biggest surge in funding for infrastructure "in at least 60 years."
Why it matters: The surge of money will touch several aspects of life in Tennessee, funding roadwork, bridge repairs, and broadband expansion, among other things.
- A Tennessee Department of Transportation analysis shared with Axios found the legislation would "no doubt help" the state chip away at its waiting list of projects.
By the numbers: The White House compiled a report projecting what Tennessee would receive from the $1.2 trillion bill.
🚧 $5.8 billion for highway construction projects.
🚰 $697 million to improve water infrastructure, including removing lead pipes that carry drinking water.
🚌 $630 million for public transportation improvements.
🌉 $302 million to replace and repair bridges.
✈️ $300 million to Tennessee airports.
💻 At least $100 million to improve access to broadband.
What they're saying: Cooper, facing redistricting that could push him out of Congress, framed the legislation as a victory of historic proportions.
- "We have 881 bridges in Tennessee that need real repairs. We have 270 miles of highway that are really hurting. We have 400,000 Tennesseans who have no Internet," he said, citing White House statistics. "This is a terrible situation for a growing state."
- Cooper pointed out that he and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, were the only members of the state delegation to support the measure. The state's nine other federal lawmakers, all Republicans, voted against the initiative.
2. Metro Council preview: New road questioned
Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes sounded the alarm over the weekend about legislation that would lead to the purchase of land for a new road.
- The $50 million price tag for land on the east bank of the Cumberland River would be a split partnership between Metro and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Why it matters: Mendes in a blog expressed concerns over transparency, since a line item for the east bank road isn't explicitly listed in Mayor John Cooper's capital spending plan.
- The council won't vote on the spending plan until next month, but the separate road legislation will be debated tonight.
- The city is in the midst of an infrastructure planning study for the east bank, which was anticipated to include recommendations for projects such as new roads. Mendes wondered why the administration didn't wait for the planning study to finish before proceeding with acquiring the land.
What we're watching: The council will also vote on legislation to dedicate $1.93 million in federal stimulus funds to manage homeless encampments.
- Proposed amendments to the legislation would remove security cameras and construction equipment anticipated to be used to clear the encampments.
- Councilmember Kevin Rhoten's legislation to end vehicle emissions testing in Nashville is on the agenda, but Rhoten tells Axios he may delay it to allow for more discussion.
3. Help name our new high school
Anyone interested in helping pick the name of the new Bellevue-area high school has until Thursday morning to fill out a survey rating each of the six finalists.
Why it matters: Mayor John Cooper has committed $129 million to build the new school, which will replace the current Hillwood High School. The public's vote will help determine the new name, and those interested can take the survey here.
- The six finalists: Bellevue, Bellewood, Cecil Branstetter, Hillvue, Hopepark, and James Lawson.
Driving the news: School board member Abigail Tylor will present the results of the survey to the naming committee prior to the Nov. 23 board meeting.
- Tylor says she's impressed with some of the creative school names suggested by students. Some of her favorites are Fortnite High, Mr. Meredith's Cheeze Wiz Factory High, and "Insert student's name" High.
- "My personal favorite was Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good High School," Tylor tells Axios. "Any kid who knows his 'Zoolander' should be rewarded."
4. The Setlist
😷 A federal judge stopped Tennessee from enforcing a ban on mask mandates in schools while court proceedings in a lawsuit are underway. (The Tennessean)
📣 Experts will converge in Nashville this week to discuss the balancing act of protecting First Amendment rights while guarding against misinformation. (Millions of Conversations)
📰 A separate $1.85 trillion proposed federal spending bill includes a provision that would give community news outlets tax credits. (Tennessee Lookout)
🪕 Leaders of the Music City Roots television show resigned from their partnership with the development team behind the Roots Barn in Madison. (WMOT)
5. Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd top radio chart
- The husband-and-wife duo celebrated the milestone in his-and-her tweets.
- Morris thanked fans for "falling in love with a song that so perfectly describes the heart wrenching journey love can oftentimes be, even after the wine's all gone…"
📧 Nate is impressed with the readers' emails guessing which public figure was avoiding his texts and calls last week. Gov. Bill Lee, Taylor Swift, Jason Isbell, and Mayor John Cooper were some of the incorrect guesses. Full disclosure: one Axios reader correctly guessed the ghosting individual, but since that reader is a local elected official, no Axios swag will be awarded this time.
🎂 Adam is craving red velvet cake after watching this new Taylor Swift music video.