By Carolyn Kramer, manager, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center

Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy (R) wants the state to repay $280 million in highway money that was diverted to the general fund between 2001 to 2007. He plans to submit an appropriations amendment once the legislature reconvenes in January 2016 asking for the repayment over the next two years.

“This money should have never been diverted for other state government purposes and should have been paid back at the first available opportunity,” he said in an Aug. 10 press release.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is funded through a combination of “dedicated funding” consisting of federal transportation funding, state gas and diesel tax revenues, and titling of vehicles and registration fees.

Tracy isn’t the only one calling attention to Tennessee’s transportation shortfalls. In June, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said the state is approaching a transportation funding crisis. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) began touring the state earlier this month to raise awareness about the dire need for repair and modernize roads and bridges.

Additionally, as reported August 7 on the TIAC Blog, the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee launched a group of interactive maps showing hundreds of unfunded state road and highway projects.