In a January 2017 presentation to Tennessee Legislators, Dr. Mark Burton, CTR Director of Transportation Economics, laid out the options Tennessee has for funding its highway infrastructure. As Tennessee’s governor seeks a workable solution to the gasoline and diesel tax issue, CTR has provided historical data, compared Tennessee’s performance to other states, and created forward-looking alternatives for maintaining and improving safety and quality.
Researchers at UT Center for Transportation Research, Boyd Center, and the Baker Center have released a policy brief that examines roadway funding in Tennessee and other states, with particular attention to the gas tax.
In their report, Tax Policies and Alternative Revenue Sources: State Responses to Declining Purchasing Power of Roadway Funding, Dr. Mark L. Burton, Director of Transportation Economics, Center for Transportation Research; Dr. Matthew N. Murray, Director, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy & Associate Director, Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research; Emily K. Pratt, Research Associate, Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research; and Dr. Jilleah G. Welch, Research Associate, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy; offer insights into how other states are responding to funding challenges through tax policies and alternative revenue sources, including the strengths and weaknesses of these revenue mechanisms.
Whether it is a neighborhood’s search for safe routes to school, the development of federal funding for Interstate highways, or a state’s encouragement of intermodal freight alternatives, nearly every level of government must form, fund, and implement transportation policies. Understanding this need, CTR’s transportation professionals routinely provide both formal and informal input to community and civic organizations. We work with regional and state-level planners to form state transportation policies, plan infrastructures, and assure adequate transportation funding. We regularly participate in national level transportation discussions through congressional testimony, federal level regulatory proceedings, and publicly funded national research activities.
CTR’s federal level policy work takes many forms. For example, in 2012, CTR's Dr. Larry Bray provided testimony before the House Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure’ Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment regarding the need for future inland navigation infrastructure investment. More recently, Dr. Mark Burton filed comments and briefed individual Members of Congress in connection with the Federal Highway Administration’s ongoing consideration of truck size and weight limits. Meanwhile, Drs. Steve Richards and David Clarke have been featured in a number of nationally posted mediate efforts focused on school bus safety, railroad grade crossing safety, and future developments in high-speed passenger rail transport.
While CTR faculty and staff are engaged in national and even global transportation policy discussions, much of our focus is on state or regional policy. For example, Dr. Burton and Dr. Matthew Murray recently developed Tennessee’s Transportation Revenue Analysis and Modeling System (TRAMS) for use in the evaluation, forecasting, and planning of Tennessee’s transportation revenues, while Drs. Jerry Everett and Fred Wegmann are currently helping Tennessee’s DOT to develop the next generation of Statewide Travel Demand Model used in both state and metropolitan-level roadway evaluation and planning.
At the regional level, Mareike Ortmann has been instrumental in helping TDOT develop and implement its Office of Community Transportation which, among other responsibilities, helps communities develop appropriate local-level transportation policies Similarly, Matthew Cate, continues to coordinate the Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program (TTAP) responsible for delivering training and technology transfer to communities throughout Tennessee.
On other fronts, Dr. Burton serves as Tennessee’s representative and advisor to the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Network Appalachia (Net-A) Initiative. Net-A is focused on policies and programs that improve rural Appalachia’s connectivity to global markets. And finally, CTR’s activities extend to local level policies and programs. For example, Dr. Chris Cherry works with municipalities across Tennessee to develop bike and pedestrian friendly local policies.
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