As 2011 approaches and the state sees new mayors, public works directors and General Assembly members assume their positions, a grass roots organization is calling attention to Tennessee’s infrastructure needs — which total approximately 9,000 projects and $37.3 billion.
The Nashville-based TN Infrastructure Alliance (TIA) spent 2009 visiting the state’s 95 counties and assessing transportation networks, stormwater control, drinking water, sewer systems and public school buildings. The alliance devoted much of this year compiling its findings, which show projects are often funded only just before reaching a crisis point.
“Infrastructure is a key element to quality of life and economic competitiveness,” Pete DeLay, TIA chairman, said in a release. “We only need to look at this year’s flooding for a reminder that our vitality is linked to infrastructure.”
TIA’s effort to place focus on the state’s infrastructure needs follows the July release of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) report titled “Building Tennessee’s Tomorrow: Anticipating the State’s Infrastructure Needs.”
TACIR is a government commission consisting of private citizens and public officials from both state and local governments.
The TACIR report outlines an estimated $37.3 billion in needed infrastructure projects representing six categories, which indicates an increase of $3.1 billion compared to TACIR’s previous inventory and spans a five-year period (July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2013). The dollar figure represents a 9 percent increase.
Statewide infrastructure needs, according to the report, are most significant in the following three categories: transportation and utilities ($18.9 billion), education ($7.7 billion) and health, safety and welfare ($7.1 billion).
Shelby County leads Tennessee in infrastructure needs with 713 projects totaling an estimated $5.1 billion in projected costs. Davidson County is next and has 638 projects with an estimated price tag of $4.6 billion.
Catherine Corley, TACIR senior research associate and manager of the commission’s public infrastructure needs inventory, said TACIR has contracted with the state’s nine development districts. District officials are working with local government entities to compile current data that will be part of TACIR’s next annual report, tentatively slated to be released in July, Corley said.
“Updating this information allows our key government leaders to better understand our community needs,” TIA’s DeLay said.