The problem with this process is that there is no horse race between different projects and no assurance that the best horse won. Every government expenditure has a potential for leaving behind a better idea in favor of the one that seems to be already chosen. Project selection in transportation has been broken badly since the Clinton Administration with the advent of Planning as a required element of consideration. The Metro Planning and Rural Planning Organizations are a disaster with respect to accountability and respect to the quality of the choices that are made.
It amazes me that a project of over a half billion dollars can't find $9 million for a road to get there. Most developers have to build the transportation infrastructure to their developments and turn it over to the local government. The system of redistribution of money to local governments works a hardship on larger urban areas. This is by design. The old Depression Era Theory was that roads need to connect urban areas to their rural areas where food and fiber come from. The system of redistribution does that. But, it means that urban areas are eventually going to use larger and larger fractions of their tax base to have transportation system within their urban boundaries. A more perfect system would be to redistribute money to local governments based on their current lane miles and vehicle miles traveled. As long as projects are speculative and their merits discussed secretly, The best system in the world is of little value.
This TIF fiasco is the natural and logical consequences of giving subsidies to industrial development. Once the legislature was used to doing that, the next logical move was to jump to other categories of economic activity. Even though all urban areas in Tennessee have had net losses of industrial jobs in the period from 2001 to 2010, the feeling that tax money can make something good happen still hangs on. According to the Bureau of Economic Development, Hamilton County lost 8,499 industrial jobs from 2001 to 2010. Nashville lost 12,050 in the same period. Even with the ability to condemn land and build industrial access roads to industries, the policy designed to boost industrial jobs is a failure. All we are doing now is going on to commercial and residential developments, mixed use, to see how that will turn out.
They need to occupy Moccasin Bend.
Mr. Johnson understates the disastrous economic decision to build Corridor K, even as a two lane. No state should be building anything to serve less that 10,000 cars per day right now. The state average income per vehicle mile before this recession was a little over two cents. What projects are going to be cancelled or delayed to pay the difference between the $1.50 required and the two plus cents per vehicle mile that we are taking in? TDOT is operating an asphalt welfare program and this is the cost before the over runs. The corrupt Metropolitan and Rural Planning project selection system is very good at picking projects based on political need but is totally worthless when it comes to picking projects based on real transportation need.
Danny L. Newton