Increased Delivery of Road Projects in Rutherford County as TDOT Heads Into 2024

Dec 21, 2023 at 11:19 am by WGNS News

Continued Widening Projects on HWY 99 and N. Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro.




RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - A landmark move earlier this year should lead to an increased delivery of road projects as we head into the New Year. The Transportation Modernization Act (TMA) has ushered in a transformative era for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), fundamentally changing how projects are delivered without imposing new taxes or toll roads. This generational shift in infrastructure policy is marked by a $3 billion general fund transfer approved in April of this year (2023), strategically distributed across all four TDOT regions to advance critical transportation projects.

Unlike traditional approaches that may disproportionately allocate funds to urban areas, reduce maintenance budgets, or propose toll roads, the TMA's investment strategy ensures an equitable distribution of funds, fostering a comprehensive and balanced development of the state's transportation infrastructure. The cornerstone of this initiative is the creation of the first-ever 10-Year Project Plan, a fiscally constrained roadmap outlining critical projects across Tennessee.

The innovative project prioritization process represents a significant evolution in TDOT's mindset and philosophy. Now, projects are selected based on performance-based goals and criteria, introducing improved communication and accountability for taxpayers. The evaluation process considers three crucial dimensions of project delivery: performance, delivery time, and cost.

In Rutherford County, the SMART Corridor will continue to progress. This corridor includes I-24 between South Church Street and Nashville, while also including various connector routes along the way. TDOT will also improve exit ramps off of I-24 at Joe B. Jackson Parkway, which is where a new Buc-ee's is being built.  TDOT also confirmed ramp improvements at Epps Mill Road in Christiana. Other construction projects in the Murfreesboro area include continued road improvements that widen New Salem Highway between Cason Lane and Veterans Parkway and North Thompson Lane between Broad Street and Memorial Boulevard.

The interstate 24 (I-24) SMART Corridor Project takes a comprehensive approach to managing the existing infrastructure and improving travel time reliability between Rutherford and Davidson counties. The integrated corridor management system was launched in June of 2023. Material and technical delays pushed the projects timeline past its original completion date. The project is currently in Phase 2, with the project team managing the corridor and working to launch the arterial management system, which should be complete in early 2024.

TDOT's overall 10-Year Project Plan aligns with key transportation goals, including maximizing traveler safety, reducing congestion, supporting the state's economy, preserving the transportation system, promoting livable communities through multimodal integration, and accelerating project delivery. This data-based approach ensures objectivity in project selection, funding, and delivery times, emphasizing a commitment to project completion.

One notable aspect of the TMA is the introduction of Choice Lanes on congested urban highways. These lanes provide motorists with the option to pay a voluntary user fee for faster travel speeds and trip times, without imposing tolls. This innovative approach, facilitated through a Public-Private Partnership (P3), benefits both users of Choice Lanes and all motorists by reducing congestion, improving air quality, and preserving funding for rural highways.

Prior to the TMA, TDOT's alternative delivery program was limited to Design-Build (DB) and Construction Management/General Contractor (CM/GC) methods. The TMA expanded this toolbox to include Progressive Design-Build (PDB), enabling TDOT to optimize the delivery of complex infrastructure solutions. This flexibility has already demonstrated substantial benefits, with $22 million in cost savings and a 70% faster delivery rate compared to traditional methods.

TDOT's emphasis on a quicker and more streamlined approach to road projects addresses the longstanding issue of prolonged project development phases. With an average reduction of 15 years in project delivery time and a 40% decrease in project costs compared to budgeted estimates, the alternative delivery program promises significant savings for taxpayers.

As the TMA ushers in this new era of infrastructure development, TDOT remains committed to enhancing mobility, safety, economic growth, and the overall quality of life for Tennesseans. The Act's strategic vision and commitment to efficiency signify a paradigm shift in how Tennessee approaches and delivers critical transportation projects.

Butch Eley, Commissioner for the Department of Transportation, sent a memo to members of the 113th Tennessee General Assembly that outlined a 2024 to 2026 Comprehensive Three-Year Multimodal improvement plan. The memo underscores Tennessee's transportation developments, emphasizing a commitment to addressing challenges while maintaining fiscal responsibility. A proposed three-year plan allocates funds for 45 major highway projects in 30 counties, encompassing rural, suburban, and urban areas, with a focus on preserving assets, enhancing safety, and promoting multimodal infrastructure. The commitment to project transparency and expedited delivery reflects a targeted and fiscally constrained investment strategy. The plan further supports initiatives like the IMPROVE Act, and the acceleration of rural interstate widening projects and reducing urban congestion.


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