Other Fiscal Impact - Due to multiple unknown factors, a precise fiscal impact cannot be determined with specificity. However, if any such project is undertaken pursuant to this legislation, the cost is reasonably estimated to exceed $1,000,000; the funding for which could consist of any combination of federal, state, or local funding depending on the specifics to any project. In addition, and to the extent toll revenue is received for utilization, total costs or portions thereof, may be recaptured.
This bill revises various provisions of the Tennessee Tollway Act.
Under present law, the Tennessee Tollway Act authorizes the department of transportation to develop tollway or toll facility projects and to operate tollways or toll facilities. In order to develop and operate tollways or toll facilities, the department may expend funds from the state tollway account and the state highway fund as appropriated by the general assembly and any funds, grants, or loans received from or made available by the federal government that may be lawfully applied to such projects.
Present law authorizes the commissioner to set tolls for the use of tollways or toll facilities. The authority to set tolls and operate tollways or toll facilities does not apply to a highway or other transportation-related facility constructed prior to June 28, 2007, except that an additional lane capacity constructed along an existing highway or bridge after June 28, 2007, may be developed and operated as a tollway.
Present law initially limits the development and operation of toll facilities to a pilot program to evaluate the feasibility of tolling to fund development of highways or other transportation-related facilities. The department is required to identify and initiate the development of these pilot projects as soon as reasonably practical. The pilot program is limited to the following project choices:
(1) (A) One new highway project, including any bridges and other structures that may be necessary to complete the project; and
(B) One major bridge project crossing a major river, together with any related highway facilities and structures needed to complete the project; or
(2) (A) Two new highway projects, including any bridges and other structures that may be necessary to complete each project; or
(B) Two major bridge projects crossing a major river, together with any related highway facilities and structures needed to complete each project.
The pilot program requires the department to hold public meetings concerning tolling and receive approval from the general assembly of any pilot project.
Under this bill, the Express Transportation Act:
(1) Expands the purpose of pilot programs to include the use of tollways and toll facilities as a tool for managing traffic;
(2) Adds that existing HOV lanes on highways, bridges, or other transportation-related facilities may be converted to tollways or toll facilities, regardless of when it was constructed;
(3) Urges rather than requires the department to identify and initiate development of pilot projects as soon as reasonably practical;
(4) Expands the choice of pilot projects to include the following:
(A) Conversion of one existing HOV lane to a managed/toll lane, including any extension to the existing HOV lane, bridges, and dedicated on or off highway ramps that may be necessary to complete the project and one project described above in (1)(A) or (B) under PRESENT LAW; or
(B) Conversion of two existing HOV lanes to two managed/toll lanes, including any extensions to the existing HOV lanes, bridges, and dedicated on or off highway ramps that may be necessary to complete the projects;
(5) Prohibits tolls of emergency vehicles or high occupancy vehicles in an HOV lane converted into a toll lane;
(6) Authorizes the commissioner to require the payment of tolls by owners or operators of inherently low-emission vehicles and low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles, and single occupancy vehicles;
(7) Authorizes the department, if payment of tolls described in (6) is required, to establish procedures for automated enforcement of violations of, and restrictions on, the use of the lane or lanes by such vehicles; and
(8) Authorizes the use of automated devices to enforce managed/toll lanes on federal interstate highways.
This bill also encourages the department to study the feasibility of developing, construction, operating, maintaining, and financing a transportation network, the Nashville Express Network. The department may consult with the federal highway administration regarding the review process needed for approval and identify sources of funding, including federal grants, for development of the network.
Purposes of the Nashville Express Network are as follows:
(1) Provide an interconnected expressway allowing a free-flowing commute into, from, and around Nashville;
(2) Provide a guideway network for bus rapid transit (BRT) to improve BRT users' experiences through speed maintenance and prevention of traffic congestion;
(3) Increase mobility and roadway capacity during ingress to and egress from Nashville; and
(4) Generate revenues to support these purposes through a fee for the voluntary use of the network.
This bill requires the department to report its findings and any recommendations to the transportation and safety committee of the senate and the transportation committee of the house on or before February 1, 2017.