Stop The Fifth Interchange
at Mine Lick Creek Road
DEconstructing the Concocted Road Avrice Propaganda IN General
Last updated on 11 JUNE 2008
THE NEWS, OPINION AND COMMENTARY NOT AVAILABLE IN THE HERALD-CITIZEN
Welcome to the TOUR website. (Taxpayers Opposed to Useless Roads) This web site is for those people who want better government policy in road building. It is an exploration of the factors and frustrations surrounding the planning and management of transportation infrastructure in the state of Tennessee. Particular emphasis will be on the Proposed Mine Lick Creek Interchange but, there are many projects like this throughout Tennessee. If you pump gas, pass through the state or ride the bus, you are going to be effected by the policies and proceedures of the Tennessee Department of Transportation or TDOT. I believe that better transportation policy is achievable through the ethical treatment of all taxpayers and seek to provide the other side of the story that is not known either through ignorance, blind trust or strategic misrepresentation.
Danny L. Newton
1018 Rose Garden Lane 38501
Please remember Cathy McWright as she travels to Nashville and endures additional cancer treatment. Cathy and her husband Ricky have a house and property along Buffalo Vally road and are likely to be impacted by the construction of Alternative "A." She faces a difficult treatment that will require that she stay in the hospital for 100 days.
How Risky Are Start-Up Toll Roads?
by Robert PooleLINK TO OTHER TRANSPORTATION EDITORIALS BY ROBERT POOLE
One factor that is not fully appreciated in the debates over the private sector’s role in developing new (“greenfield”) toll roads is risk transfer. In a well-structured long-term concession agreement, the toll road company takes on not only completion risks (cost to construct, keeping to the schedule) but also traffic and revenue risk. Thanks to a couple of recent procurements in Texas, both of them new urban toll roads in relatively affluent Dallas suburbs, the impression exists among many pundits, reporters, and public officials that a start-up toll road is a pot of gold. I was reminded of that when I read a relatively recent report on the state-of-the-practice in toll road traffic and revenue forecasting.
The report is another in the series of synthesis reports from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the Transportation Research Board. This one is titled, “Estimating Toll Road Demand and Revenue,” 2006, and you can download it from the TRB website (or just google “NCHRP Synthesis 364”). While much of it is fairly dry and technical, Tables 1 and 2 tell a striking story. Most U.S. start-up toll roads in the past 20 years have been financial duds.
The report’s Table 1 lists data comparing actual and forecast toll revenue for 26 such toll roads, for each of their first five years of operation. As an example, here are some figures for second-year results, for the 25 toll roads with Year 2 data. Only two of these 25 exceeded 100% of forecast revenue by the end of their second year. Another four exceeded 90%, one exceeded 80%, and another two exceeded 70%. Thus, only about one-third achieved better than 70% of projected revenues by the end of their second year. The average for all 25 start-up toll roads was just 62.8% of projected revenue.
That is pretty dismal, but it’s consistent with other recent studies, including ones discussed in NCHRP 364 that were carried out by bond rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. A 2002 J. P. Morgan study parsed the data a different way, looking for patterns as to which types of toll road did better or worse at matching actual with forecast traffic and revenue in their first five years. The analysts grouped them into four categories, in order of best performance:
Toll roads in high-congestion suburban areas (e.g., Georgia 400 [GA] and George Bush Expressway [TX]);
Toll roads in outlying portions of metro areas (Veteran’s Parkway [FL] and Creek Turnpike [OK]);
Toll roads in developed corridors with many alternatives (Hardy [TX] and San Joaquin Hills [CA]);
Toll roads in least-developed areas (Pocahontas Parkway [SC] and Greenville Connector [SC]).
These groupings are based only on the first five years of operation, and some of these toll roads have done much better in later years. But some have not, and some of the worst performers have been rescued by toll road companies, under very long-term (75 to 99-year) concession deals.
The point I want to leave with you is that the pot-of-gold start-up toll road is the rare exception, not the general rule. In general, greenfield toll roads are high-risk propositions, especially in their early years. That is why the traditional municipal (tax-exempt) toll revenue bond market has been so conservative in how much it will finance, based on what is called an “investment-grade” traffic and revenue forecast. Experienced global toll road companies, global capital markets, and the new breed of infrastructure investment funds are willing to take on greater risk, in exchange for a longer-term deal and the possibility of double-digit returns. That prospect should be welcomed by those seeking to expand the funding available to build much-needed highway capacity.
EDITORIAL COMMENT ON THE SLIGO BRIDGE REPLACEMENT
by Danny L. Newton
WHAT IS HOLDING UP THE EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE CASE NOW
by Danny L. Newton
The City of Cookeville is borrowing $2.5 million from the county to be a partner in the Business Park. The loan terms are $500,000 down and annual payments of $200,000. It would look a little strange if the county was trying to get a business park inside the city without the approval of the city which controlls the zoning. It will take will take 15 years to pay off the loan. So far, I see no evidence that the City has paid anything, probably because the actual payments are contingent upon getting all of the property.
Since there is no industry waiting in the wings, this is impossible to determine.
Using a recently advertised property on the north side of the Business Park and the state Department of Economic and Community Development web site, it can be determined that the number of unemployed within a 25 mile radius is 3520. This would set the upward limit of an industry or business in the business park at 2346. It takes the typical Japaneese auto manufacturer 18 hours to make a car. It would take 2346 people all day to make 1042.6 cars. This is about half of an auto manufacturing plant. If each person took up 100 square feet, the building would be 5.38 acres. That would be a building less than 500 feet by 500 feet. This mystical and yet-to-be-approved or revealed maufacturing facility would cover less than three five-acre lots and no industry could qualify for another Certificate of Public Need until there was either a major expansion of the population or a major depression or both within the 25-mile radius. If the population expanded 2% per year, it would take 35 years before building up another 2346 factory workers so the process could legally proceed again.
This assumes that the Highlands Iniative has not shrunk that number by 1250 by now. It would only take about 5 acres to pack 2346 autos onto the property. Logically, this leaves a lot of spare property in the nominal 400 acre business park and proves that Mrs. Lynch's Land is not critical to whatever they plan to manufacture. This assumes that the plans do not cynically waste land on parks and other ammenities that would assure that Mrs. Lynch's property was artificially critical.
The assessed value of all of the property in Putnam County in 2007 was $4,018,045,618. This means that, according to our legislature, we should be able to pay for an Industrial/Business Park worth about $401.8 million dollars before making the state the least bit nervous about issuing a Certificate of Public Purpose. This is about 2/3 of the projected cost of the New Convention Center in Nashville. Nashville does not have to comply with this kind of oversight because it is a city over 300,000 people. Nashville is already bumping up on the 10% limit which is really inspired by credit rating agencies such as Fitch, Moodys or Standard and Poor as a red flag warning of declining capacity to pledge and pay debt.
If $401.8 million was borrowed at 5% interest for 40 years, the annual payment would be $23,427,82.08. The law is not exactly clear about how to treat the debt when it is not bonded. It only protects the taxpayer from dangerous levels of taxation when land is used to secure the debt. Other taxes are not addressed. The county already has about $92 million in bonded debt to operate the county. The county is building up a reserve in the Debt Service Fund that could be used for a war chest to build this Business Park without incurring debt. It is about $13 million dollars now and could fund the $11 million infrastructure costs estimates for the park.
Apparently the legislature does not think that any other form of taxation such as sales taxes, gas taxes or yard sale permits merits any attention whatsoever with respect to a burden on the taxpayer. This oversight is bad enough but the taxpayer is totally prevented from responding to the work product of this committee by casting votes to get rid of malfunctioning members.
If you take the 401.8 million allowed and subtract the $92 million already bonded, I get $309.8 million dollars. At 5% interest and 40 years I get an annual payment of $18,064574,33. That would be a per capita annual payment of $269.47 for a population of 67,000. The per capita gas tax is about $300.00 right now so this would be similar to doubling the gas tax.
Editor's Expanded Comments
From 03 APRIL 08 to 09 June 08 the number of available industrial or commercial/Industrial sites in Putnam County on the state Economic and Community Development web site went from 17 to 36. Anybody who wants to put some kind of new industry in Cookeville will not lack in the area of land availability. The number of available sites in White County also went up from 2 to 6 and in Overton County the industrial/commercial site count went up from 2 to 5. Together with Putnam County, these three counties are partners in the Highlands Iniative.
If all 36 available industrial/speculative properties suddenly divided all of the unemployment among themselves equally, the average new business could only employ, according to the legal guidelines in the Tennessee law 65 persons until and unless there is a lot more unemployment.
[Acts 1955, ch. 209, § 8; 1975, ch. 311, § 2; T.C.A., § 6-2906; Acts 1980, ch. 532, § 1.]RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
A STRANGER CASE OF DR. JEYKALL AND MR HYDE
by Danny L. Newton
After dropping their suit against Mrs. Lynch a little over a month ago and negotiating to pay her expenses and damages, the City of Cookeville and Putnam County have reinstated their condemnation suit against Mrs. Lynch for the last 15 or so acres of the "business park." The City and the County have asked that the condemnation suit be combined with the partition suit that was filed by the Lynch attorneys. This sounds like no matter what piece of property that Mrs. Lynch finally ends up with, they want to condemn it! Now, after numerous government caused delays, they seem to be in a hurry to get the property.
The gullible will probably jump to the conclusion that the Chamber of Commerce has some really hot leads and folks ready to move in since they seem to be suddenly playing hardball again. I have yet to see an industrial park fill up completely even if it was over 20 years old. No one has adequately explained why this industrial park is going to do better than any of the other existing industrial property already located near the three existing interchanges.
The consultants who suggested all of this foolishness have already high tailed it out of town with our money and are spreading it around Atlanta right now to get some real economic development. Wow! The Highlands Iniative is spilling over into Georgia now! Out of guilt, they will probably send their federal stimulus checks back to Washington.
PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE RPO MEETING
29 MAY 2008
by Danny L. Newton
Based upon the approximate population of the RPO being 223,941 people and each person generating $300 for TDOT in state and federal gas taxes, it can be inferred that the Centerhill RPO is sending TDOT $67.2 million dollars per year in gas taxes. For two years they got nothing and if they got all of their "A" list completed within five years, they would get about 30.1 miles of road. That works out to $15.6 million dollars per mile. If TDOT were a hospital, this would be the equivalent to a $15 asprin given at the hospital. Another work sheet was handed out and it had traffic counts on it on future roads within the 25 year plan. The traffic counts were from 3,440 to 17,000 Average Annual Daily Traffic. Most were under 7000 per day.RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
Below are rankings sent in an e-mail from Randy Williams
|1||6008008||SR136||SR 111 to I-40, Cookeville||2.29|
|2||6008013||SR 298||From I-40, Cumberland County to Cook/Crabtree Road,Crossville||0.21|
|3(t)||6008001||SR 26(US 70/ SR 1)||SR 56, Smithville to SR 24 (US 70) Crossville||45.09|
|3(t)||6008005||SR 24 (US 70 N)||SR 56, Baxter, to I-40, Cookeville||11|
|5||6008007||SR 111||Intersection SR 111 and Lamont/Sparta Street, Spencer||0.01|
Below are rankings on handouts at the RPO meeting.
PROJECTS FOR RECOMENDATIONS TO THE 3 YEAR WORK PROGRAM
READY FOR FUNDING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE "A" LIST
PROJECTS FOR RECOMENDATIONS TO THE 3 YEAR WORK PROGRAM
READY FOR FUNDING TO THE NEXT LEVEL - "A" LIST
HAS THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION ABANDONED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY ON THE FIFTH INTERCHANGE?
by Danny L. Newton
Even though TDOT spokesperson, Ms. Jennifer Osborne-Flynn, has been quoted in the local paper as declaring on 17 MAR 08 that there is no connection between the Fifth Interchange and the Northern Connector, TDOT published in the classified section, on 09 MARCH 08, and in the same paper, a Finding of No Significant Impact or FONSI that shows that this perception of reality does not exist at the Federal Highway Administration. According to the Environmental Assessment that was dated 14 DEC 2006, the Interchange is connected to a four lane road with controlled access and a 70 MPH design speed. The FONSI that was dated 18 APRIL 08 also mentions the four-lane controlled access road on page 16 but on page one, it is described as a road that will be built in stages. It will start out as a two lane road and then grow to a four lane road on a 250 foot wide right-of way that will be purchased on a design consistent with a four lane controlled access road. The road selected was alternative "A".
This begs the question of exactly what TDOT is going to do with the $10 million dollars in the existing Interchange project. If they are lucky, it might be enough to build a low volume diamond interchange as long as there is not a lot of rock to blast. The RPO has a new chairman now and it would be an interesting exercise to see if there is enough history to review the question of exactly what was suppose to happen in the case of the Fifth Interchange. Public support for the project was swayed to positive only by the interchange only vote which, technically, was not responsive to the three choices.
If the FHWA will not allow the Interchange to be built with out a connecting road then TDOT will need to come up with some more money to get the Fifth Interchange started. Two bridges will be required, one to lift Buffalo Valley traffic over the Northern Connector and another to lift the Northern Connector over the railroad. It is not certain about when the limited access fences will be added. Probably, the limited access provisions will come much later in a way similar to the way Interstate access is provided to Gainsboro at SR56. Eliminating these bridges will lower the cost into the range of the original estimate. The existing pair of bridges over Interstate 40 is not wide enough for a four lane design so this also saves building new bridges over the Interstate. This is a signal that the road design speed will be upgraded later.
TDOT is a lot better at buying land than building roads on it. The four lane right-of-way between the Interstate at Baxter and Gainsboro is part of the long promised County Seat Connector Program that was passed in 1986 and funded with a gas tax increase in 1987. TDOT recently asked for permission to bond $139 million dollars to build part of the missing 18 miles in SR 840 and then after the $468 million dollar spending crisis that was announced on 07 MAY 08, withdrew the request for issuing those bonds.
Even with the connecting road, as a two lane or four lane, the published standards for breaking into an Interstate are rather strict and this project does not meet any of the other criteria either.FHWA CRITERIA Just because you spent $5 million dollars on an industrial park and are planning on spending another $11 million dollars on infrastructure is not among the reasons for breaking into the Interstate with an Interchange. Having an actual industry ready and willing to move would help, but is not on the list either. Approving this Interchange is a little like loaning money with a lottery ticket as security.
According to the traffic counts that are on the new Environmental Assessment the traffic is expected to be in the range of 3800 to 4500 in 2010 and grow to 5600 to 6400 in 2030. The traffic now crossing the Interstate is not likely to exceed 1000 cars a day. If the lowest estimates of 2010 traffic and 2030 traffic are annualized into a growth rate, it would be 1.957% per year which is about the same as the population growth for the county. This would be a growth rate that would cause traffic to double in 35.75 years. If the county population growth rate were to be taken as typical for between 2000 and 2006, the 9.6% growth rate over 6 years would cause the population to double in 45.37 years. This is a normal deviation from the growth of background population increases. It suggests that a lot of the new traffic will be attracted off of the Interstate.
The $34 million road and the $10 million dollar interchange still pose an economic problem when you consider that TDOT is only getting about 2 cents per vehicle mile. Over a thirty year period, this road and interchange, even if the traffic increases every year at a geometric proportion will only make $3,3532142.95 in nominal, non-inflation adjusted dollars with a base year of 2010. If you take the income versus the cost, this leaves a loss of $40.6 million dollars over 30 years and that does not include maintenance or the first or second repaving that will be required by the end of thirty years. This loss is not discounted to take into consideration the time value of money.
Even though the FHWA has no responsibility to protect the state from financial folly, the plain language of the existing law would be demanding that the FHWA deny this application for an interchange with or without the connecting road. This interchange fixes no transportation problem that can not be fixed by building the Gould Drive Extension into their 400 acre Business Park. Even though the un-elected and incompetent Chamber of Commerce considers that option substandard, it would cost a lot less than the $44 million dollar extravagance that is currently on the FONSI and Environmental Assessment.
If this project is really $44 million dollars instead of $10 million dollars, someone needs to make sure that getting this project will in no way delay other more pressing local infrastructure needs. TDOT has a proposed project to upgrade Jefferson which has more than 10,000 vehicles per day on it. This is a much more important project and produces a greater and more certain benefit to more people than the Fifth Interchange. It is not even on the Rural Planning Organization list of possible projects. The County Commission already has suggestions that the new Industrial Park be used for the new prison. At least one County Commission member has come to that conclusion before the public request to use this business park, at least partially, as a prison site.RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
Special to the Herald-Citizen
Monday, Mar 17, 2008
QUESTION: What can be done to get the "Northern Loop Project" State Route 451 going again? Traffic in and around Cookeville is much worse now than it was in 2003, and seems to be getting worse daily. At some point a northern loop and fifth interchange will need to be built.
ANSWER: The controversial State Route-451 was officially canceled in October 2003, as a result of a detailed University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research review of 15 proposed Tennessee Department of Transportation projects across the state, according to Jennifer Osborne-Flynn, regional community relations officer with TDOT. The project would have included a limited access, four-lane, divided highway in an area that connected State Route 111 and State Route 56 north of Cookeville in Putnam and Jackson Counties. A number of issues contributed to the decision to cancel the project, including the economic and environmental impact of that planned project.
Osborne-Flynn said there are no plans to revive the project. Any request for new projects in Putnam County has to come through the Center Hill Rural Planning Organization (RPO). This organization is administered through the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville. The northern connector was not identified as a priority for study during the last round of RPO technical meetings, However, the RPO will meet April 1 to discuss and request input for new studies. That would probably be the best opportunity to initiate any new activities.
A non-related TDOT project that is in the very early stages of development for the Putnam County area is the construction of a new interchange on I-40 at Mine Lick Creek Road, said Osborne-Flynn. It is currently in the preliminary engineering stage and has not been funded for the next phase of development, which is right-of-way. The right-of-way phase includes appraising and acquiring all property necessary to construct the project. Funding of the right-of-way phase for the Mine Lick Creek Road interchange is on the RPO's priority list for Fiscal Year 2010/2011.
WHAT DOES THE HADLEY BEND TOLL ROAD HAVE TO DO WITH THE FIFTH INTERCHANGE?
by Danny L. Newton
I went to the Hadley Bend Toll Road Public Meeting on 22 April to see what people were thinking in the urban areas about toll roads. My guess was that there were about 60 people there, though the crowd seemed to grow even after the meeting was started. A lot of the people there were legislators like Representative Diane Black and Mike Turner. There were county commissioners and other politicians there too. They mostly stood back and listened. Representative Turner even decided not to respond when Representative Black suggested that he had changed his mind on the toll road project.
I have spent so much time griping about TDOT and how they do business that it seemed only right that I try to praise them when they do something right. TDOT has gotten one of the best consultants in the world to advise them on this project but it seems that not all of that advice is filtering down to the legislature. Their consultant has a proven track record of providing reasonable estimates but I seriously doubt that the consultant suggested that the tolls be collected manually, even one toll booth at each exit, since the technology is bringing that cost down rapidly.
I also suspect that the consultant decided to present the revenue forecasting with two scenarios in order to try and make an impression on the client how important it is to finance the project with a gross pledge rather than a net pledge. A gross pledge is essentially the same thing as financing with general obligation bonds. A net pledge is similar to financing with revenue bonds. The state will probably try to finance this project with revenue bonds and pretend that if it goes belly up, the state has no obligation to the investor but will step in to make sure that the road and bridge are taken care of. These bonds are more difficult to sell because of the risk and the interest rates are higher. The legislature recently approved of a general obligation bond for the completion of SR 840S that had an interest rate of 6% for 20 years. Revenue bonds would be much higher than 6%.
This toll project is very unpopular with the people at this meeting. With a two county population of close to 723,000, it seems that more people would show up. On a pro-rated basis, Putnam County had more people show up to the I-81/I-40 Upgrade and Fifth Interchange Meetings. Davidson County got more politicians per county to the meeting than Putnam County usually does. According to estimates from the consultant, one might expect one out of 38 people in the two-county area to use this road every day. Now that the Fifth Interchange is not a part of Corridor J, the daily traffic is hard to calculate. I did some partial counts of traffic going across the existing Bennett Road bridges and agree that the daily count is about 1000 per day with morning and afternoon peaks of about one vehicle per minute.
TDOT's representative at the Meeting was Ed Cole, Chief of Environment and Planning. He spent a lot of time trying to remind people that this project was not going to be built any time soon in spite of the financial planning horizon that showed that it would be built by 2013. He reminded people that the legislature would have to approve anything they did and that the road and bridge would not get special consideration in the usual environmental considerations. The legislature has tasked TDOT to give them a report on this by the first of next year but Mr. Cole believes that this meeting and the one scheduled later in the week at the other end of the proposed bridge would accelerate and fine tune their report so that the legislature can be ready to render a decision sooner than next year.
This whole process, decorated with a court reporter, open time for anyone to comment by snail mail and an openness to those who have computers to respond electronically to the meeting directly with TDOT seems like a very fair and democratic process. The only fly in the ointment is the sampling of public opinion. Many of the people who go to these meetings are policy wonks like members of the MPO and environmental activists. Even I am not a representative citizen because I have a background in transportation and engineering that prevents my views from being average. NIMBYS are thick in these crowds and having more than one potential project alignment only enhances their numbers.
Should TDOT use the same process to gauge support for the Fifth Interchange as it does to decide support for the Hadley Bend Toll Project? There was only one person out of sixty at this meeting who announced that they were for this bridge. If you take the population of Davidson and Sumner County as 723,611 people and figure about 18% of them are too young to have a driver's license, then the most that could be interested in this bridge and road would be 593,361. If the $8.449 million in tolling income for the best scenario for the first year is divided by the average toll of $1.50, then there should have been 15,421 motorists per day willing to pay the toll. Maybe all of the people who could benefit from this project were still stuck in traffic or could not make the 5:00 PM meeting? Should the NIMBYS at this meeting stand aside and give up their property so that 15,421 people per day can get to the shopping center or the airport a little quicker?
This is a completely different situation than the Fifth Interchange. The public benefit, if measured per motorist, is much smaller in Putnam County even if the connecting road to the Fifth Interchange is built. Several in the Hadley Bend crowd challenged TDOT to show a good reason for this road and bridge. Others confidently panned the consultant estimates of diverted and attracted traffic. Ed Cole did not try and respond to the question of benefit. Another unusual circumstance was that a person identifying himself as being affiliated with the local chamber of commerce was totally against the project because the project's perceived impact on the history of the area. Another thing that was unexpected was that I called for a show of hands for the people in the room that just did not like this project because it was a toll road. Even though three people had previously spoken against the double taxation, no one seemed to be against the road just because people would be paying for it by tolling. The problem seemed to be environmental and due to location.
Mr. Cole admitted early in the presentation that the project would require some public money, perhaps 30%, over the lifetime of the project to get started because of the zero income during the construction and the slow build up of tolling traffic in the first three years. This only lead to a suggestion that they start tolling over in Knox County first since the Knox County I-475 project would be more likely to support itself throughout the service life of the project according to the consultant.
More than one person thought that the solution was somehow connected to trains. Another person also thought that the train solution would be quieter. This route would be carrying over 12 times the daily traffic of the Nashville Star between Lebanon and downtown Nashville. The estimated width of the bridge and road was 300 feet. Even though a train would have a smaller theoretical foot print, the parking provided for the Nashville Star was about 1000 free spaces. Pro-rated, it would take 12 times that plus stations. The Nashville Star Cost $38 million to get it started and most of that, $22 million, was to upgrade the existing tracks. The Nashville Star travels averages 35 miles per hour even though it is legally able to go 60 MPH. You can always count on train oriented people going to a TDOT meeting. The proposed toll bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis incorporates a train track.
Once the same people began to rise again and again to add other negative comments, Mr. Cole tried to wrap up a meeting that was already beyond the two hour limit. One gentleman got up and tried to propose a third alternative. The map was poorly located for me to see exactly what was going on and I knew this was going nowhere since the legislature strictly forbids TDOT from looking at other toll projects.
TDOT has entered this project more financially aware of the consequences than any project I can think of. Even if it is a bad project and never gets built, anybody planning to spend $255 million dollars and tring to recover that over 40 years would be crazy to spend that kind of money without some kind of consultation with accountants. None the less, TDOT has been doing that for decades, not with millions of dollars but billions of dollars every year.RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
TENNESSEE NEEDS TO REDUCE EMPLOYEES BY 2,250
by Danny L. Newton
Dave Goetz, the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the governor and the commissioners of many state departments will be reporting to the press and public some of the more difficult details of exactly how the state will handle a revenue shortfall of $468 million dollars late Monday, 12 May, 2008. Normally when a state needs funds, it looks to the local and county governments for assistance. This is not going to happen according to information passed on to members of the House on May 7, 2008. Even though the state sees a rainy day coming, the Rainy Day fund, almost $750 million dollars, is only big enough for a drizzle, not a real rainy day.
Representative Mike Turner was fully in favor of using that fund to cover the shortage but was told by Commissioner Dave Goetz that using non-recurring Rainy Day Fund money to pay recurring salaries would endanger the credit rating of the state. Representative Turner also spoke with regret concerning the fact that this bad news had come so late in the budget process. Later in a discussion with other representatives, it was estimated that if state analyst were correct the real shortage over more than one budget cycle could be $800 million. The planned reduction in state employees was about 2,250. In the first year, this would only represent a reduction of $60 million compared to a total target of $468 million.
Federal reductions in funds were also a major factor in concluding that the drought in state funds would be long term and not comparable to the past shortfalls that lasted less than half a year. Medicare reforms by the federal government are hitting every state. Also cited was the housing bubble and the price of fuel were cited as an on-going concern as disposable income, especially disposable income that would be rung up as taxable.
One of the more interesting proposals was from Representative Hardaway from Memphis. He actually proposed that the legislature get its own budget analyst and counterattack the recession with its own stimulus package. Commissioner Goetz discouraged such things based upon Keynesian logic and theories that held that economic stimulus comes from government deficit spending. The state, according to Commissioner Goetz, could only borrow for things, not wages.RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
FIFTH INTERCHANGE TIMELINE
30 SEPT 1988 Herald-Citizen Reports that Vice Mayor Grogan expects Fifth Interchange by the year 2000. Estimate for the interchange is $1 million. The estimated cost of extending Gould drive to the industrial park is $500 thousand.
03 DEC 1998 Cookeville City Council asks TDOT to perform a feasibility study on constructing fifth interchange on I-40 at Mine Lick Creek Road. SPONSOR-JIM SHIPLEY
01 APRIL 1999 The Cookeville City Council asks TDOT to study the Maple Avenue flyover at I-40 as the new Fifth Interchange.
25 OCT 2000 TDOT dates the Interschange Justification Study for Federal Highway Administration Review as part of Corridor J intersection at Mine Lick Creek Road.
20 MAY 2002 Cookeville proposes to move the city limits to the vicinity to surround the Fifth Interchange
21 JUNE 2002 TDOT Advance planning report on the Northern Connector
15 JULY 2003 Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury releases report to the legislature with reccommendations for objective system of project selection.
AUG 2003 Final Report of Independant Investigation Sanctioned by TDOT. Studies selection process of 15 problematic road projects in Tennessee, Mine Lick Creek Road is one of them.
24 FEB 2003 City of Cookeville approves alternate "A" as Phase I Councilman Sam Sallee asks that The Northern Connector be Considered as Phase II.
22 SEPT 2005 Herald-Citizen reports Highlands Initiative Kickoff with $2million.
OCT 2005 State Transportation Improvement Plan Shows Project #71005 "Construct New Interchange at Mine Lick Creek Road" ROW acquisition marked for 2006 and construction marked for 2008. See Adobe Page 41/99. Estimated Cost is $10.3 million.
DECEMBER 2005 TDOT Provides explaination of the Project Evaluation System
23 MAR 2003 TDOT report reccommends using SR 111, not Mine Lick Creek Road for Corridor J intersection with I-40.
24 MAY 2006 Tennessee Legislature removes protection from land owners when government acts to build roads or build industrial parks. Bill allows transfer of property to private concerns. Charlotte Burkes listed as a sponser.
14 DEC 2006 TDOT Signs the Environmental Assessment FHWA concures later on 18 APRIL 2008. The connecting road is to have a design speed of 70 MPH and 250 foot wide controlled access right-of-way.
05 JUNE 2006 Tennessee Governor signs bill limiting the ability of the state, county and city to condemn property. PDF FILE HERE
16 JAN 2007 County Commission votes to listen to Mrs Lynch's side of the story and votes down condemnation request.
05 FEB 2007 Center Hill Regional Planning Meeting votes on transportation projects
06 MARCH 2007 TDOT Holds a public Meeting on the Fifth Interchange
01 NOV 2007 Condemnation of Pyle Property on the City Council Agenda. The vote was unanimous.
12 NOV 2007 The County Planning Commission in a voice vote decides to condemn the Pyle Property.
13 NOV 2007 The Cookeville Chamber of Commerce Refused Tour Editor Access to Engineering Report on the Highland Business Park.
14 NOV 2007 The Chamber of Commerce called a little after 5 PM to advise the Tour Editor that they had prepared a copy of the report that is being used to justify the condemdation of the Pyle Property and that it would be available at the front desk.
12 FEB 2008 The Sherrif Served Mrs. Lynch a summons this morning to initiate the condemnation process on her land.
17 MAR 2008 The City and the County ammend their condemnation suit. This will push back the court date into April 2008.
17 MAR 2008 The Herald-Citizen quotes TDOT spokesperson Jenifer Osborne Flynn as saying that the Fifth Interchange and the Northern Connector are "non related"
18 APRIL 2008 Federal Highway Adnistration, Charles J O'Neil, signs Finding of No Signifigant Impact Statement For Mine Lick Creek Interchange Road And Northern Connector Road.
25 APRIL 2008 THE LYNCH FAMILY ANNOUNCE THAT THE COUNTY AND THE CITY HAVE WITHDRAWN FROM LEGAL ACTION TO PRESS THEIR OUTRAGEOUS EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE UPON THE LYNCH FAMILY
01 MAY 2008 TDOT puts up a partial electronic copy on their web site of the FONSI. This describes the staged construction of the connecting road from two to four lane but on a four lane right-of-way.
08 MAY 2008 The Lynch Family files a petition for Partition in Kind in Circuit Court. Attorneys ask for legal costs and damages.
09 MAY 2008 Herald-Citizen prints Finding of No Signifigant Impact or FONSI claiming that the Northern Connector and the Fifth Interchange are Connected.
20 JUNE 2008 The City of Cookeville is scheduled to meet Mrs Lynch in court to challenge the right to take property for a business park and to partition the property.RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
CONTACT YOUR TENNESSEE
STATE TRANSPORATION OFFICIALS
House Committee on Transportation
Representative Phillip Pinion, chair ( D - Union City, District 77 - Obion, Lake, and part of Dyer counties)
Representative George Fraley,Vice-Chair ( D - Winchester, District 39 - Franklin, Moore, and part of Lincoln counties)
Representative Bill Harmon, Secretary ( D - Dunlap, District 37 - Sequatchie, Van Buren, Grundy, and Marion counties)
Representative Curt Cobb ( D - Shelbyville, District 62 - Bedford and parts of Lincoln and Rutherford counties)Represenattive Vince Dean, (R - East Ridge, District 30 - Part of Hamilton County )
Representative Henry, The Fifth Interchange, Fincher D - (Cookeville, District 42 - Most of Putnam County)
Representative Dale Ford (R - Jonesborough, District 6 - Part of Washington and Hawkins Counties )
Representative G. A Hardaway, (D - Memphis, District 92 - Part of Shelby County, Midtown and Inner City Memphis; Communities of Orange Mound, Rozelle, Bethel Grove, Glenview, Magnolia, Copper-Young and Lamar/Parkway corridors, part of Binghampton.)
Representative Mathew Hill, ( R - Jonesborough, District 7 - Part of Washington County)
Representative Curtis Johnson, (R - Clarksville, District 68 - Part of Montgomery County)
Representative Phiillip Johnson, (R - Pegram, District 78 - Cheatham and part of Montgomery and Williamson counties.)
Representative Debra Maggart, (R - Hendersonville, District 45 - Part of Sumner County)
Representative Jimmy Matlock, (R - Lenoir, District 21 - Parts of Loudon and Monroe counties.)
Representative John Tidwell, (D - New Johnsonville, District 74 - Houston, Humphreys, Perry, and parts of Hickman and Maury counties.)
Representative Nathan Vaughn, (D - Kingsport, District 2 - Part of Sullivan County)
Representative Eric Watson, (R - Cleveland, District 22 - Meigs, Polk and part of Bradley counties)
Representative Ben West Jr. (D - Hermitage, District 60 - Part of Davidson County - Donelson, Hermitage and Antioch Communities)
Represenatative Leslie Winningham (D-Huntsville, District 38 - Clay, Jackson, Pickett, Scott and parts of Anderson counties.)
You can find all bills, fiscal notes, bill histories and co-sponsors, U.S. mail legislative and district office addresses and streaming video of committee and subcommittee meetings HERERETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE:
RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS LINKS
Senator Jim Tracy, Chair - R - Shelbyville
District 16 - Bedford, Moore and part of Rutherford counties
Staff Contact: Judi Butler and Clint Hall
Senator Tommy Kilby, Vice Chair - D - Wartburg
District 12 - Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Rhea, Roane and Scott Counties
Phone (615) 741-1449
Staff Contact: Michelle Stephenson, Brenda Gadd
Senator Jack Johnson, Sec. - R - Brentwood
District 23 - Williamson, and part of Davidson Counties
Phone (615) 741-2495
Contact: Catherine Haire
Senator Jerry Cooper - D -Morrison
District 14 - Franklin, Bledsoe, Coffee, Grundy, Sequatchie, Van Buren, and Warren counties
Phone (615) 741-6694
Staff Contact: Christina Barber
Senator Doug Jackson - D - Dickson
District 25 - Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Humphreys, Lawrence, and Lewis counties
Phone (615) 741-4499
Fax (615) 741-8745
Staff Contacts: Kim Andrews
Senator Rosalind Kurita -D - Clarksville
District 22 - Cheatham, Houston and Montgomery counties
Phone (615) 741-2374
Toll Free (800) 449-8366 Ext. 12374
Staff Contacts: Pamela George and Andrea Smith-Hummel
Senator Steve Southerland R - Morristown
District 1 - Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, and Unicoi counties
Phone (615) 741-3851
Staff Contacts: Carolyn Newman, Loudene Gee
Senator Micheal Williams - I - Maynardville
District 4 - Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, and Union counties
Phone (615) 741-2061
Staff Contact: Rosalyn Martin
Senator Jamie Woodson - R - Knoxville
District 6 - Knox County
Staff Contact: Pat Farmer, Alexanderia Honeycutt
YOU MIGHT HAVE A USELESS ROAD IF...
1. The road cost more money than it could ever hope to generate in taxes in a lifetime.
2. The local Chamber of Commerce says it will be good for the economy
3. The Chamber of Commerce organizes a pilgrimage to the Governor's office to tell him that everyone wants it.
4. The local paper tells everybody that if you don't want it your are a NIMBY
5. The local Chamber of Commerce is telling everyone that we have to do this because everyone else is doing it too.
6. The local Chamber of Commerce is claiming that we have to do this to get ahead of everyone else who isn't doing it.
7. TDOT says that it will cure the traffic problems.
8. TDOT says it won't cure the traffic problems.
9. The Chamber of Commerce claims that it will be good for the quality of life.
10. The Chamber of Commerce says it will help get the next factory
11. Your State Representative just thinks you are against it because of a pre-existing oppositional character flaw.
12. The Chamber of Commerce is in secret negotiations with the next whiz-bang company that only needs this road to make the whole deal come together.
13. TDOT is building a four-lane road when a two-lane would still have a high life cycle service level.
14. TDOT is building a road that will damage your business but does not go through your business. (No blood, No foul)