Letter to the Editor

Letter To the Editor

Monday, February 5, 2024

Like so many Tennesseans, I drive on roads a lot. And, like so many Tennesseans, the conditions of our roads concern me. More so today because I just left the county clerk’s office, trying to renew the tag on one of my cars. That experience left me livid! Especially after blowing a tire at the 133-mile marker on Interstate 40 on January 19. Let me explain.

I make frequent trips to Knoxville. One of my four sons lives there, and I attend many UT athletic events. I used to take I-840 around Nashville until the poor quality of that road bent two rims on one trip to Knoxville. I won’t use that route again until TDOT makes improvements.

After getting my rims repaired and a new set of tires on my car, I headed to Knoxville to visit my son and watch UT play Alabama in basketball on the 19 of January. That trip resulted in a blown tire after hitting one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of potholes on the heavily traveled I-40. After driving on my spare from the Tennessee River to Nashville, I bought a new tire and had my car aligned. For the remainder of that trip, I dodged potholes, most of which were around Nashville and points west. It was an expensive, slow trip home.

To add insult to injury, I traveled to Cape Girardeau last weekend. The potholes on I-155 were similar to those on I-40. Once I crossed the Mississippi River, the roads in Missouri were pristine. I enjoyed my visit to our neighboring state to the west but dreaded crossing the bridge back to Tennessee. That trip to Cape reinforced my belief that our state leaders are letting us down.

I’ve written a letter to TDOT Commissioner, Butch Eley, asking him to explain why Tennessee roads are in such bad shape. I have yet to hear back from him.

That brings me to today. I went to renew the tag on one of my cars. The renewal I received from Nashville said the cost would be $255! I had been to the clerk’s office earlier to ask if it was a mistake. I paid $119 last year for the same car’s renewal. I was told I would only pay $155. The additional $100 was only for “electric” cars. My car is a hybrid.

Today, at the clerk’s office, I was told that the state legislature had passed the “Transportation Modernization Act of 2023.” It added $100 to the renewal of all hybrid vehicles in the state. The same new law added $200 to the cost of renewals for all electric vehicles in Tennessee. I know that our local government raised taxes on automobile renewals, and I surely don’t mind paying my share of taxes to support local governments. I do not understand the reasoning behind adding these amounts to people like me who will invest in energy-efficient vehicles that produce fewer emissions. I can’t find the logic in penalizing one segment of Tennesseans who register their vehicles in our state.

We need our roads fixed. I need an explanation why our state’s leaders have let our transportation system become an embarrassment. I hope to hear from one of them before the next election.