Chattanooga city leaders, transportation officials discuss road paving
City leaders are trying to figure out how to fix and repave roads in Chattanooga.
An internal audit shows there is not enough money to fix all the roads in the city right now.
It's not very often we report on council members asking their department leaders to request more money, but city leaders are urging the city department of transportation to request additional funding to fix the city's roads.
They said the new audit, and recent heavy rains, show the city's roads need a lot of work.
"If anyone is surprised by this audit they shouldn't be," said council member Ken Smith.
The City of Chattanooga is responsible for maintaining, and repaving, 2,311 hundred miles of roadways.
An internal audit shows that for the past 6 years, the city has only paved about 27 miles of roads each year. At that rate, it would take 84 years to repave every city road.
Sunday, Lake Resort Drive was closed, due to damage from flooding. The road is in council member Smith's district.
He said he has warned the city about the problem for years.
"Unfortunately, it's in an area, Blythe, that you and I have been going back and forth on for years."
Council members are asking transportation officials, to ask for more help.
They said the transportation department has not been requesting enough money.
Now, they say, the need is urgent.
"What can we do to help? I just want you to know that we're all sincere,” Councilman Ledford said to CDOT officials, “and that are citizens are concerned. We are here to help you and to help the administration."
But transportation administrator Blythe Bailey said it's not just about the money.
"If we could have unlimited money, we'll use it. But the reality is we're constrained by what we have,” urged Bailey. “So, we'll continue to ask for more money. But I stress over and over again what's more important than more money is making sure we spend the money smartly."
Bailey said the city should do a study, to put a comprehensive transportation management plan in place, one that would help maintain and repave roads on a regular basis.
Under the plan, a different portion of city roads would be repaved each year, which Bailey estimates would cost roughly $6.2 million annually.
"You have to maintain your asset and if you don't it will end up costing you more in the long run,” said Bailey. “So, fundamentally a good asset management plan is about making sure we save Chattanoogans money in the long-run."
The study for a comprehensive management plan will take about six months. Bailey doesn't expect to see that plan in place until 2020.
Read the full audit below:
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