Gov. Haslam visits Wilson County; South Mt. Juliet Road and State Route 109 North discussed as possible future major roadway projects under IMPROVE Act
Governor Bill Haslam spoke at a town hall meeting in Wilson County last Thursday evening, in which State Representative Susan Lynn organized, regarding the proposed IMPROVE Act. The Governor discussed county tax changes and the proposed IMPROVE Act. Photo by Parker Minor.
Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam, made a special stop in Wilson County last Thursday evening for a town hall meeting, which was organized by State Representative, Susan Lynn, regarding the proposed IMPROVE Act.
Rep. Lynn began the meeting by informing Wilson County citizens of the current funding and taxes which led into talk of the current surplus budget.
She continued breaking down the IMPROVE Act and what it would do for the state and for Wilson County throughout the next eight years if introduced.
“A total of 962 projects throughout the state would begin, including 10 Wilson County road projects,” said Lynn.
Local residents and citizens in attendance of the town hall meeting were concerned of the possible outcome of the tax increase. Lynn stated that the last gas tax increase took place in 1989 in the state of Tennessee. Since that point of time, 30 years have passed by and inflation has taken place causing value and expenses of such projects to drastically change and costs twice as much to repair and maintain such roadways.
The Act could possibly also institute a new open container law into the state of Tennessee,” said Lynn. “The proposed Act could possibly take away a large penalty that has to be paid by the state in regards for not having such a law.”
The Hall income tax is required to be done away with by the year 2022. The proposed act would quicken up the process of extinguishing the income tax.
Gov. Haslam appeared an hour into the meeting for the meeting at the Wilson County Courthouse after being out of state for other business in which he had flown in from directly.
Haslam explained to Wilson County residents the meaning of the IMPROVE Act.
“The new proposed Act would mean tax cuts and a gas tax increase, while also addressing transportation funding concerns and issues,” said Haslam. “We’re only trying to keep up with our roads, and it costs twice as much when we only have half as much money.”
The results of the IMPROVE Act would be an increase in the road user fee or gas tax by 0.07 cents per gallon of gas. For a gallon of diesel fuel, an increased amount of 0.12 cents would be experienced by fleet drivers.
An increases of $5.00 for car registration fees for the average passenger vehicle would be implemented. This would bring in $278 million dollars in new funds to support backlogged transportation projects.
Balancing out the increase in the other discussed taxes would be major tax cuts on food and manufacturing in the county.
If passed, the IMPROVE Act would most likely include State Route 109, a popular debated roadway with over decades of requests from everyday travelers to widen. The project would begin at the intersection of Highway 70 (Lebanon Road) and State Route 109 and would be projected to end at the Wilson County-line, where the new four-lane bridge overpass into Sumner County begins.
The project would be an estimated 7.5 miles of road work and widening that would cost an estimated 18.5 million to complete.
South Mt. Juliet Road is another main road in Wilson County that state and local government have studied.
“When Interstate-40 or I-24 gets congested or backed up with standstill traffic, drivers automatically bail to Hobson Pike or South Mt. Juliet where most of all the traffic jams up during these situations,” explained Rep. Lynn. “The project would cost somewhere around $25.4 million to construct the widening between Central Pike and Providence Way on North Mt. Juliet Road.”
Other mentioned Wilson County projects would possibly include two I-40 projects in which would decrease traffic congestion along Interstate 840 to Highway 70. The other project would include the areas between State Route 109 and 840. The estimated total for both projects would be expected somewhere around $94 million.
Another Mt. Juliet congested area on Highway 70 that was mentioned was the intersection of Park Glen Drive and Bender’s Ferry Road. Between schools and travelers heading to work during the morning hours and daytime workers making their way home around the same time as dinner, the Mt. Juliet area is known for congested traffic most mornings and afternoons.
The intersection of Central Pike from Old Hickory Boulevard, outside of Mt. Juliet in Hermitage, was also discussed, as well as a new possible interchange at I-40 and Central Pike. The interchange at I-40 and Central Pike is listed under the interstate program and estimated at a total of $14.2 million in construction.