What a great day! The sun is finally out after a few cold, rainy days and it looks like Spring may finally be arriving - weatherwise - in east Tennessee.
In driving around this part of the state in the past few weeks, I've noticed what seems to be a very high level of pavement damage—mostly potholes and patch deterioration—on our roadways. I would attribute this to rather cold, wet winter, though it doesn't seem like this one was particularly severe. However, I can't remember road surfaces being in this condition since the late 1970s. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but the numerous comments on this situation on our morning radio talk show make me think otherwise. What do you think? If I'm correct, it seems as though our surfacing budgets might be strapped this year.
Since my last column, we've fallen off the much dreaded "fiscal cliff." At this point, it's unclear to me just what the long term impact to surface transportation will be, despite a raft of dire predictions about impacts to other programs. The Highway Trust Fund itself is exempt from sequestration. Legislation outlining sequestration specifically exempts the following programs to the extent that program budgets have obligation limitations in appropriations bills:
So, under this provision, Tennessee will see a $724,000 reduction during 2013 in National Highway Performance Program funds. This program addresses roads that are part of the National Highway System—in Tennessee, overwhelmingly components of the state maintained network. Federal disaster aid for highways and that portion of the General Fund that is transferred to the Highway Trust Fund is also subject to sequestration, though the effects on our state are not clear to me at present.
On the whole, it appears to me that sequestration should have little impact on local roads and streets. We'll still have the same issues with funding that existed before the fiscal cliff. Unlike the nation as a whole, many of you operate within budget limits, and that means stretching resources to make the best use of them. In these economic times, working smart is mandatory at the local level. That's where we at TTAP hope to help out.
Well, that's about it for this issue. As always, if we can help, please don't hesitate to call or email. TTAP looks forward to assisting you. Be safe!
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