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Tennessee bill aims to cut gas tax funding for bike projects

Published March 15, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BRAIN) — Tennessee is considering new legislation that would restrict the use of state gas tax revenues from being used on pedestrian and bike facilities, including pedestrian and bicycle trails, lanes, paths, sidewalks, parks and greenways. 

The bills, HB1650 sponsored by Rep. M. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) and SB1716 sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), would restrict the use of gas tax revenues to the highway fund, counties, and cities for the construction, improvement and maintenance of highways and bridges for vehicular travel.

It would prohibit such revenue from being used to provide the required match for the federal funds or to otherwise ensure the state’s use of the federal funds for infrastructure.

The house bill was set for a hearing in the transportation committee Tuesday, March. 15. It was introduced in January and has gained five co-sponsors since then.

The matching senate bill was introduced in January as well and has since been referred to the Senate finance, ways and means committee.

PeopleforBikes recently sent an alert to its members located in the state, asking them to send a letter to their lawmakers to voice their opposition to the bill.

“The Tennessee gas tax is the biggest source of state funding for bike and pedestrian projects in the Volunteer State,” PFB said in the alert. “You can help stop this from happening.”

Tennessee motorists pay 21.4 cents of state gas tax and 18.4 cents of federal gas tax per gallon of gas. Funds are directed to the state’s transportation system.

According to local paper the Times Free Press, about 1 percent of the state transportation department’s $1.8 billion annual budget is spent on bike and pedestrian facilities. And the newspaper also reported that the state generates about 44 percent of its total transportation revenue in-state and that less than half is generated by the gas tax. 

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