Tennessee Needs at Least $68 Billion Worth of Public Infrastructure Improvements

Thursday, February 08, 2024 | 09:42am
Building Tennessee's Tomorrow - Cover of the Report

NASHVILLE—Tennessee needs at least $68 billion worth of public infrastructure improvements during the five-year period of July 2022 to June 2027—a $5 billion (9%) increase from the year before—according to a new report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).  Health, Safety, and Welfare infrastructure needs increased by $2 billion—37% of the overall increase in the total estimated cost of the inventory.  Over half of this increase—$1 billion—is needed for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, including new projects and increases in the cost of existing projects.  The overall increase in water and wastewater needs was offset by $27 million in cost decreases, $324 million in completed projects, and $22 million in canceled projects.  The largest completed project is a sewer system rehabilitation in Springfield ($63 million).

The $2 billion increase in needed improvements for Education also contributed to the overall increase in the total estimated cost of the inventory.  The increase was primarily driven by a $1 billion increase in post-secondary education needs, including two new projects at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK)—a facility to accommodate growth in the College of Business ($227 million) and a chemistry building to replace the current building ($151 million).

Needs also increased for General Government ($1 billion), Recreation and Culture ($236 million), and Transportation and Utilities ($41 million).  Reported needs decreased for Economic Development ($6 million).

The percentage of funded infrastructure needs reported at the time the inventory was conducted increased by 1% from 2021 to 2022.  Funding is often not identified until a project reaches the construction stage.  This year’s inventory shows $17 billion in funding that has been identified for the $50 billion in needs for which funding information is available.  Improvements needed at existing schools and those drawn from capital budget requests submitted by state agencies do not include funding information.

Total estimated costs for current infrastructure needs fall into six general categories:

  • Transportation and Utilities:  $35 billion
  •  Education:  $17 billion
  • Health, Safety, and Welfare:  $11 billion
  • Recreation and Culture:  $3 billion
  • General Government:  $2 billion
  • Economic Development:  $239 million

The report includes one-page summaries for each county, which list the estimated cost for all types of needed infrastructure in each county by stage of development, highlight the top three types of infrastructure improvements needed in each county based on the total estimated cost, and provide comparisons of the infrastructure needed at public school systems to student enrollment.

The full report is available on TACIR’s website at https://www.tn.gov/tacir/infrastructure/infrastructure-reports-/building-tennessee-s-tomorrow-2022-2027.html.

For more information, contact Tyler Carpenter, Research Manager, at Tyler.Carpenter@tn.gov or 615.253.4095.

TACIR Mission

TACIR’s mission is to serve as a forum for the discussion and resolution of intergovernmental problems, provide high-quality research support to state and local government officials in order to improve the overall quality of government in Tennessee, and to improve the effectiveness of the intergovernmental system to better serve the citizens of Tennessee.