The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a long history of constructing innovative highway projects. However, the agency has now expanded this innovation into the realm of project financing. Last year, it completed the resurfacing of Skyhawk Parkway in Martin, first highway project in the nation using an Accelerated Delivery, or “AD,” process.
Local governments have long lamented the “red tape” administrative activities that slow the highway project delivery process once federal funding is incorporated. A balance must be struck between delivering projects quickly and carefully ascertaining that all standards and regulations have been met. Tennessee DOT found a solution. Rather than engaging in constant back-and-forth document and certification reviews with the Tenessee DOT, the local government completes all phases of the project and submits all documentation for department review upon construction completion. If all standards and regulations have been met, then the project is converted to a federal project, and expenses are then reimbursed which results in significant time savings. However, if a portion of the project does not comply with established standards, the local government risks forfeiting reimbursement for that portion. This method relies heavily on strong communication and a solid partnership between all involved.
Ultimately, the additional risk assumed by all parties paid off exponentially. Most importantly, one of Martin’s principal gateways and commercial corridors was resurfaced in record time, with full reimbursement received within one fiscal cycle. Tennessee DOT and the Federal Highway Administration were extremely satisfied with the success of the AD program and are considering expanding its use going forward, which will benefit all taxpayers and users of the transportation across the entire state.