Tennessee’s newly-approved gas tax increase will generate more than a half-million dollars in revenue for Scott County over the course of three years, according to figures released by the state last week.
That is important news for the county’s road maintenance efforts, which are not supplemented by local tax dollars. The Scott County Road Department’s budget includes fewer than $500 each year in the local budget, with the vast majority of its funding coming from the local share of the state gas tax.
The Tennessee General Assembly last month finalized a proposal by Gov. Bill Haslam that will increase the tax on gasoline for the first time in nearly three decades. The tax on a gallon of gasoline will increase by four cents on July 1, and ultimately increase by six cents over a three-year period. The diesel tax will increase 10 cents. The Haslam administration says the tax hike will help fund the state’s $10 billion backlog in transportation project needs.
While the lion’s share of the new revenue will go to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for projects that the agency says will include three highway projects and several bridge projects in Scott County, counties and municipalities will also receive increased funding as a result.
Specifically, the state estimates that Scott County will receive $488,000 in additional gas tax revenue over three years, and $175,000 in additional diesel tax revenue over the same period.
Of that total, nearly $37,000 will go to the Town of Oneida, more than $15,000 to the Town of Huntsville, and just over $10,000 to the Town of Winfield.
The remainder will be added to the county road department’s coffers. Currently, the road department has a budget of just over $2 million each year.
Earlier this month, TDOT announced its three-year plan, which includes road projects on U.S. Hwy. 27 in Oneida and Robbins, and S.R. 52 in Elgin. The Oneida project will be long-awaited improvements to the Oneida bottleneck, which sees Alberta Street reduced from five lanes to three from Oak Grove to near the Boys & Girls Club on the south end of town. The state chose to make improvements to the bottleneck rather than build a new highway to bypass the town through West Oneida. However, the improvements — which are slated for completion next fiscal year — will not include a widening of the highway. TDOT has earmarked only $3.5 million in funding for the 2.9-mile stretch of roadway. Improvements are expected to include signalization and intersection changes and work on the infamous “corner” at the intersection of Alberta and Depot streets.
Likewise, the S.R. 52 project — slated for fiscal year 2019 — is expected to include only minor improvements. TDOT has estimated a $1 million price tag for the 4.8-mile section of roadway from S.R. 52’s terminus at U.S. Hwy. 27 in Elgin to the Scott-Morgan county line near Rugby.
That contrasts with the $29 million the state has earmarked for a major rebuilding of U.S. Hwy. 27 from near Wolf Creek Road between Elgin and Glenmary to just north of the South Scott fire hall — where the current three-lane segment of highway begins. Right-of-way purchase for that project is slated to begin in 2019.
TDOT also has several bridge projects on the drawing board, including the railroad overpass on Niggs Creek Road in south Oneida.