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Commission discusses bypass expansion, road repaving

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 8:00 am


A resolution urging acceleration of the completion of Shelbyville’s 437 Bypass was read and passed unanimously by the Bedford County Board of Commissioners at last week’s meeting.

The resolution was put forth by Commissioner John Boutwell with a 4-0 endorsement of the Rules and Legislative Committee.

Boutwell said this expansion project has lain “dormant” but is crucial to complete in order to create better access to U.S. 231 and, eventually, Highway 41A.

“U.S. 231 is basically where all the commercial activity, particularly retail, shopping, restaurants, is happening…Just a lot of new activity,” he said during the meeting.

State Rep. Pat Marsh told The Post in an email, “I have asked TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) to get me some more info on the proposed project.”

Marsh added that they had problems planning the route because of a cemetery and an uncooperative resident.

“After that, TDOT put it on the back burner. I’m trying to get it moved up, but it is not looking very good.  I think the resolution will have some weight.  It certainly won’t hurt,” he said.

According to the resolution, “the completion of the new Shelbyville Bypass (State Route 437) from US 41-North/State Route 16 to Highway 231 has significantly contributed to the mobility, economic development, and safety of Bedford County.”

It was designed to “enhance” access to industrial developments within Bedford County and provide an alternate route for commercial traffic, thus relieving congestion in downtown Shelbyville.

This is crucial as new projects are completed, like Cartwright Elementary School, TCAT-Shelbyville’s new campus, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey distillery’s expansion, Tennessee Downs Auto Club’s track, and Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital.

The resolution states these projects “indicate a substantial increase in economic activity and population growth in the 231 Highway North area.

“Projections based on population growth trends indicate a significant increase in student enrollment in Bedford County Schools, necessitating the need for adequate transportation infrastructure to support the growing population.”

The completion of the Bypass expansion from Highway 231 North to Highway 41-A North would further improve traffic flow, enhance connectivity, and accommodate the anticipated increase in vehicular traffic associated with the aforementioned development projects and population growth.

The resolution therefore “urges” the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to expedite the completion of the Shelbyville Bypass expansion from Highway 231 North to Highway 41-A North, in order to accommodate the growing transportation needs of Bedford County and facilitate continued economic development.

“The best I can remember, the cost was about $20 million and it only covered about three miles.  It was originally supposed to come out around El Bethel Church,” said Marsh.

Mayor Chad Graham said during the meeting, “I was told it has something to do with the next leg of that over to 64 West that they’re going to have to cross the river, and so there is some targeting that is associated with how that road ought to–again the state decides that.”

The resolution reads, “TDOT is further urged to prioritize funding and resources necessary for the timely completion of this critical infrastructure project, recognizing its significance in supporting the current and future growth of Bedford County.”

The resolution will be sent to TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley in addition to Marsh and State Sen. Shane Reeves.

Disposal contract

The county’s ISWA disposal contract will be rebid in the upcoming year. According to Highway Superintendent Mark Clanton, the disposal cost could increase going forward once that is rebid. Though it will not affect the current year’s budget, the rates could go up $250,000 to $350,000 a year for disposal.

“With the trash situation and the disposal rates we have all around us, everything is going slim to none to get rid of household waste that everybody has at these centers. And that opens up the market, so whatever your fee is to dispose at this point in time, you can almost guarantee it’s probably going up 25 to 50 percent,” said Clanton speaking to the Board of Commissioners. “Hopefully it won’t be that bad…but I want you to be prepared. I don’t want you to have a shock syndrome if I come in and say it’s going to be $250,000 more that you’re going to have to come up with to put in solid waste.”

As for road paving, Clanton emphasized every penny of the 9 cents the highway department receives from the property tax rate goes to road paving and road paving only.

“The tax rate is about $1.1 million—is what the highway department gets. I’ve been putting at least $500,000 more of that every year I’ve been in office, so we’ve been spending about $1.5 million to $2 million,” said Clanton.

To get roads on a 20-year cycle of repaving, it would cost $3.3 million every year.

“I’ve got some roads that haven’t been repaid for at least 30 years that we’re trying to catch them up,” said Clanton.

According to the highway department’s road list, they oversee a total of 710 roads, equaling 685.32 total miles.

As of last week, Fairfield Pike, Horse Mountain Road, and Gant Road will be repaved. This will finish the State Aid paving for the Governor’s transportation bill that gives the highway department $3.1 million for repaving.

Also, nine roads will be completed by June 30 for oil and chip.

EV fees

County Clerk Donna Thomas said during her quarterly report that total collected money at this point in time is $5.3 million which up about 25%.

This is largely because last year’s collection was down (because of the state discount with new license plates issued). But also, as of Jan. 1, a law was passed that all electric vehicles (EV) have a $200 electric fee upon renewing plate. For hybrid, it’s $100 fee.

“So if anybody in here has an electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle brace yourself for that when you get ready to renew your tag,” said Thomas.

According to the Tennessee Department of revenue, the fees are in addition to the standard registration fee of $26.50.

  • For registration renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2024, and prior to January 1, 2027: $200.
  • For registration renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2027, and prior to January 1, 2028: $274.
  • For registration renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2028, and thereafter: $274, adjusted annually for inflation.

For hybrids, the registration renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2024, and prior to Jan. 1, 2028, is $100. Renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2028, and after are $100, adjusted annually for inflation.

According to Clanton, this is largely because of a gas tax that passed that is distributed to all counties.

Graham added, “Knowing that EVs are coming and they’re not paying fuel tax but they’re still putting wear and tear on the roads.

“We’re seeing more and more of those vehicles, and we’ve been watching that effect of EV.”