Report Compiled by Jill Penley
Tennessee’s annual estimated cost for its needed public infrastructure improvements is now nearly $50 billion, marking an increase for the third straight year.
Infrastructure, which is made up of roads, buildings, water, power supply and other utilities, is the base on which economic growth is built. There remains an underlying need for modern, efficient and reliable infrastructure in the nation, state, and county.
Recognizing the link between economic growth and adequate infrastructure, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) is charged with developing and maintaining an inventory of public infrastructure needs “in order for the state, municipal and county governments of Tennessee to develop goals, strategies and programs which would improve the quality of life of its citizens, support livable communities, and enhance and encourage the overall economic development of the state.”
Information about Tennessee’s public infrastructure needs is drawn from data reported by local officials, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the capital budget requests submitted by state agencies.
Local officials also report the condition of their school buildings based on definitions of “excellent, good, fair and poor” provided by TACIR staff. After compiling all the data, TACIR issues a summary report, which includes projects in the conceptual, planning and design, or construction phase at any time during the specific five-year period covered by the report.
Projects may be started or completed outside that five-year window, and most will be funded with debt.
The report also noted that funding for more than two-thirds of the estimated costs of the needed improvements was not even available when conducting the inventory.
According to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the estimate needed public infrastructure improvements in the state is up 11 percent from last year. As anticipated, transportation and utility projects make up most of the costs, with $25.9 billion projects identified that need to be in some sort of development between now and 2022. The second highest category was education improvements with $13.6 billion projects identified. This cost calculation includes new schools and additions, renovations, technology upgrades and money to address state and federal mandates.
The TACIR report, which includes a statewide overview chapter with information by type of infrastructure, the condition, and needs of our public school facilities, the availability of funding to meet reported needs, and a comparison of county-area needs, includes one-page summaries for each Tennessee county. The report is based on Johnson County’s 2017 population of 17,691 and reports 67 projects in the conceptual stage, 16 in the planning and development stage, and four already in construction.