NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “They know they have to do something” was the consensus from mayors representing some of Middle Tennessee’s largest municipalities who lobbied for Governor Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Just exactly what lawmakers will do with various road funding proposals remains perhaps the biggest issue on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill that would affect virtually every family in the state.
The group lobbying lawmakers included Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt, Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley and Williamson County Rogers Anderson.
The mayors’ first choice they told lawmakers was the governor’s plan, which includes a 7-cent increase on a gallon of gas and a 12-cent increase on a gallon of diesel while also proposing some business and personal tax cuts.
The IMPROVE Act also includes what’s called the local option for counties and cities, which would allow them to hold a referendum or vote to raise a tax that would be dedicated to transportation issues only.
All are supportive of the idea because it gives them some flexibility for local road or traffic needs specifically in their areas.
“For us who have traffic issues more so than some of the rural areas, it gives us that ability to let the people decide if you explain what is there,” said Williamson County’s Anderson.
He cited the widening or repair of major roads such as Highway 96, Mack Hatcher Parkway, and Franklin Road as top needs in county, which is one of the fastest growing in the state.
To the north in Clarksville, Mayor McMillan told News 2 why the local option was so critical for her city of 150,000.
“I think by having additional dollars to be able to work with the state to enter into partnerships where we could work together to improve these roads is really key to making it happen,” she said during a news conference in between talking with lawmakers.
Howard Bradley, the mayor’s counterpart in next door Robertson County, says his main need centers on a good road connecting I-24 and I-65 which run up the sides of the county.
“Some of the roads between the interstates are 100 years old,” the mayor added. “And if we had a new one, economic development would explode.”
Sumner County Mayor Anthony Hall summed up the day meeting with lawmakers.
“They assure us they are going to creative and they are going to come up with a solution,” he told News 2. “We got to have that dedicated funding for transportation. They know that.”