WASHINGTON - Sen. Bob Corker is one of two senators who proposed to raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for the first time in more than two decades as Congress struggles with how to pay for highway and transit programs.
Senators Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, and Corker, a Tennessee Republican, pitched their plan Wednesday as a bipartisan solution to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund. That fund is forecast to go broke in late August.
The plan would raise the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax by 12 cents each over the next two years, and then index the taxes to keep pace with inflation.
Some drivers were skeptical and others, strongly opposed to any gas tax increase.
"I think it's good to keep the infrastructure up, and it does cost money, but I think there so much mismanagement of government, that there's plenty of money out there -- they just need to manage it better," said Brown Bevill.
"You see the projects that go on and they seem to be dragging so slowly," added Richard Gattis. "I don't know what the problem is."
The plan calls for offsetting the tax increases with other taxes cuts, possibly including extending federal tax breaks that expired this year.
In a release, the senators say the federal Highway Trust fund provides for more than half the country's spending on transportation projects. If nothing is done to replenish those funds, the senators warn projects will be halted, about 600,000 jobs could be lost, and state transportation budgets would take a huge hit in 2015.
Below is a list of projects included in TDOT's three-year plan that would be impacted if the Highway Trust Fund shortfall is not addressed, according to Sen. Corker's office:
ALCOA HIGHWAY (remaining phases)
*The remaining project phases have all been committed for construction:
- Hall Road to Proposed Interchange Serving McGhee Tyson Airport
- Proposed Interchange Serving McGhee Tyson Airport to Pellissippi Parkway
- Pellissippi Parkway to Knox County Line
- Blount County Line to Maloney Road
- Maloney Road to Woodson Drive
- Woodson Drive to Cherokee Trail Interchange (Right-of-way and Construction phases remain to be funded)
PELLISSIPPI PARKWAY (remaining phases)
- SR-33 to SR-73 (All phases have been committed funded, but additional funds may be necessary)
US 27 (2nd phase)
- From I-24 to TN River including the Olgiati Bridge (all construction phases committed in FY 15 and FY16)
APISON PIKE/SR 317
- From SR-321 to Layton Drive.(Construction phase remains to be funded)
- From Layton Drive to East Brainerd Road. (Right-of-way and Construction phases remain to be funded.)
I-40 BRIDGE replacements
· All phases are committed for FY 15
MACK HATCHER BYPASS EXTENSION
- SR-96 West of Franklin to SR-106 North of Franklin (Construction phase remains to be funded)
- From Mississippi State Line to Shelby Drive (Construction phase remains to be funded)
ELVIS PRESLEY BLVD
- Craft Road to Shelby Drive (Construction phase remains to be funded).
Shelby,Tipton,Lauderdale & Dyer Counties
- US-51 in Shelby County to I-155 in Dyer County (Additional engineering, Right-of-way and Construction phases remain to be funded)
Construction phases remain to be funded:
- SR-183 to SR-21
- SR-21 to US-51
Paving funds remain to be funded:
- US-51 to SR-5
- SR-5 to SR-21