Tennessee's Public Infrastructure Needs Stand At $37.1 Billion Report Says

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tennessee needs at least $37.1 billion of public infrastructure improvements to be in some stage of development during the five-year period of 2011-2016 according to a new report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).  Even so, public infrastructure needs, as reported by state and local officials, are flat (down only 0.2%) compared with the year before.

Costs for current infrastructure needs fall into six general categories:

  • Transportation and Utilities:  $20.2 billion
  • Education:  $7.2 billion
  • Health, Safety, and Welfare:  $6.2 billion
  • Recreation and Culture:  $1.7 billion
  • Economic Development:  $1.2 billion
  • General Government:  $488 million

Senator Mark Norris, TACIR’s chairman, noted that public infrastructure is one of the most important things government can provide to encourage economic development, saying, “This inventory is not just a catalog of infrastructure needs; it’s a guide for improving quality of life in Tennessee.”

While the overall need for public infrastructure was flat, the need for transportation infrastructure increased by $1.3 billion (6.8%).  At 54.1% of the estimated costs for all infrastructure improvements, transportation dwarfs other types of infrastructure needs.  Transportation is part of the Transportation and Utilities category, which has always been and remains the single largest category in the inventory.  The estimated costs for Health, Safety, and Welfare infrastructure improvements decreased the most ($893.6 million) from $7.1 billion to $6.2 billion.  All seven types of infrastructure in this category decreased: water and wastewater, law enforcement, public health facilities, storm water, fire protection, solid waste, and housing.  That does not necessarily mean that needs reported in past inventories have been met.  Much of this year’s decrease can be attributed to cancelation or postponement rather than completion of projects.

This inventory is also the only source of statewide information on the condition of public school buildings and what it would take to get them all in good or better condition, and the news here is good:  According to local school officials, 93% of local public schools are now in good or excellent condition.  However, they estimate the cost to put the remaining 7% in good or better condition at $574 million.

Local officials are confident in obtaining funding for only $11.2 billion of the $30.1 billion identified as local needs.  These figures do not include needs at existing schools or those in state agencies’ capital budget requests.  Most of this funding, $10.8 billion, is for improvements that are fully funded; another $415 million is for improvements that are partially funded.  That leaves another $18.8 billion of improvements for which funding is not yet available.

Infrastructure is built for many reasons, including community enhancement, population growth, public health and safety, economic development, and government mandates.  Around two-thirds (67%) of improvements in this inventory are needed for public health and safety, 29% is needed for population growth, and 22% is needed for community enhancement.  Infrastructure needs and the ability to meet them vary across the state.

It is no surprise that counties with the largest populations, growth rates, and tax bases need the most infrastructure and are able to build the most.  Davidson County, with the greatest density and second largest population, gets the most done, while Shelby, with the largest population, needs the most.  However, even though the most populous counties need and complete more infrastructure, an examination of infrastructure improvements per capita indicates that population alone does not explain the differences.  Available financial resources, including sales and property tax bases and residents’ income, are  strong predictors of how much infrastructure is needed and how much gets completed.  Population gain is also strongly related to how much infrastructure is needed.  

The full report is available on TACIR’s web site at http://www.tn.gov/tacir/infrastructure.html.  

For more information, contact Dave Keiser, project manager, at david.keiser@tn.gov or 615 253-4237.


Chattanooga CARES Promotes Two New Directors

Chattanooga CARES has promoted two new directors, Williams Adams and Adam Kilgore.  Mr. Adams was promoted to prevention and outreach director.  Mr. Adams has worked in HIV education and prevention for more than 10 years. His passion for community work began as a volunteer for Chattanooga CARES in the early nineties and from that time till today, he witnessed the HIV ... (click for more)

Josh Janeway And Kenneth Garmany Join Metalworking Solutions

Metalworking Solutions announced on Wednesday that Josh Janeway and Kenneth Garmany have joined the company as quality manager and director of Business Development respectively. Mr. Janeway has eight years of experience leading ISO efforts in various organizations. Mr. Garmany has over 20 years in the metal fabrication industry, marketing and selling fabrication services throughout ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Chamber Taps Bill Kilbride As Next CEO

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has tapped retiring Mohawk Industries executive Bill Kilbride as president-elect to succeed Ron Harr as president and CEO on a schedule to be announced later. According to Howard Levine, chairman of the chamber board, Mr. Harr will continue as CEO for several more months. “We were disappointed that health concerns have made it necessary ... (click for more)

NAACP Recommends Staying Away From Planned Protest By Neo-Nazi Group

The president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP, urged local residents to stay away from a planned rally here by the Nationalist Socialist Movement in August. James R. Mapp said the group seeks to provoke incidents and said counter-protests could lead to problems. Mr. Mapp said, "On April 8th, 2014, reports surfaced throughout the Chattanooga-Hamilton County region that ... (click for more)

Time For Tennessee To Act On Climate This Earth Day - And Response

Tennessee will join the rest of the southeast region, the nation and countries across the world in celebrating Earth Day on April 22. The entire month of April is a great time to reflect on the strides we have made to reduce pollution over the last 44 years, and assess current environmental conditions while evaluating our personal responsibility to a cleaner environment.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Jim Coppinger Excels

Jim Coppinger, who as the mayor of Hamilton County has understandably had to grow some thick skin, wants no part of the repulsive billboards now seen around town that ask, “Do you have gonorrhea?”  His Tuesday morning telephone call revealed he is just as disgusted as the rest of us who see them showing a picture of a forlorn African-American male. “You need to know the Hamilton ... (click for more)