Analysis highlights opportunities to improve Tennessee’s transportation system, make best use of limited financial resources

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has partnered with Smart Growth America to increase its efficiency and ensure the greatest possible return on Tennessee’s transportation investments. As a result, TDOT has compiled a series of recommendations designed to pin down areas for improvement, prioritize projects and streamline processes.

“Transportation investments are invaluable to driving economic recovery and prosperity across Tennessee,” says TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “But as this report shows, we cannot be limited to old ways of doing business. We must enable and encourage more flexible, innovative and lower-cost solutions to state’s transportation needs. Prioritizing and designing projects to add the most value for their cost is smart, common sense policy in a time of fiscal constraint, and all Tennesseans stand to benefit from an even more effective Department of Transportation.”

The analysis, Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, revealed TDOT currently has nine times more projects in its work plan than it has funding. As a result, some beneficial projects currently run the risk of falling through the cracks, while the service intent of others might be equally fulfilled through a less expensive solution.

To counter this, TDOT is already in the process of developing more rigorous metrics for the measurement of broad project benefits and better prioritization of projects. The analysis also suggests that TDOT should audit its existing work program to eliminate projects that are no longer needed and right-size projects that can be improved.

“Scaling projects to available resources upfront and making sure that they are flexible and tailored to local needs will go a long way toward ensuring that Tennessee taxpayers get the best bang for their buck,” says Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “By emphasizing the importance of the planning, programming, environmental and design phases of the project development process, TDOT will deliver a higher quality of service at less cost.”

Smart Growth America’s Technical Assistance

This analysis is part of Smart Growth America’s technical assistance, which includes professional assistance for communities or states interested in using smart growth strategies. If your town is interested in smart growth strategies but needs help making them a reality, consider a technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America. Contact us to learn more.

Download the analysis: “Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments” (PDF)

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