Governor’s Advisor Asks Legislators To Consider Toll Roads In State

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Transportation Commissioner Butch Eley is requesting that legislators consider allowing his department to do some research into the possibility of toll lanes in the state. This request comes as the funding needed to complete highway maintenance continues to exceed the amount of revenue the state has for those repairs.

At a Wednesday news conference, Eley said there were three options for generating the necessary funds without incurring additional debt or having to raise fuel taxes. Those options included the implementation of cost savings in the department’s construction process, raising fees for electric vehicles, or looking into toll lanes.


“All we’re doing here is asking for the ability to look at this as an option,” Eley stated. “Right now, we can’t do what other states around the country are doing as it relates to public-private partnerships.”

Toll roads have become a common way for states across the nation to generate revenue while also alleviating high traffic congestion. Those are most often found around larger cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

The proposed toll lanes would be considered “choice” lanes, meaning drivers would choose to pay a toll to be able to get around slower drivers.

Governor Bill Lee, who was not in attendance for Wednesday’s press conference, has stated that improving the infrastructure of the state was one his most pressing concerns for his second term.

Eley has served as one of the governor’s top advisers throughout the first term. He holds the title of deputy governor and just recently moved to lead TDOT after heading up the Department of Finance and Administration.

In 2017, state lawmakers approved a 26-cent per gallon tax on gasoline and a 27-cent per gallon tax on diesel fuel in an effort to help fund highway repairs. This was the first increase in fuel tax since 1989. Approximately $500 million is earned per year, but sources do not expect that to increase because more people are switching to electric and other more fuel-efficient vehicles.


Research conducted by TDOT and the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations shows an estimated cost of between $26 billion and $35 billion to meet road repair needs for the next 15-20 years. 

“It doesn’t take long to realize we have a little bit of a math problem,” Eley said.

The governor has stated that he does not want to raise the fuel tax or put the state further into debt.

Lawmakers cannot borrow money for road repairs because Tennessee is one of six states that uses a pay-as-go model.

The governor has also made it clear that he does not want to look into long distance toll roads that extend from one large city to another.

“The governor does not believe that toll roads from point A to point B where the entire roadway is tolled is a good solution,” Eley said.

The state has released a new website called Build With Us that details their proposed solutions to the road maintenance funding problem.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

4 thoughts on “Governor’s Advisor Asks Legislators To Consider Toll Roads In State

  • December 2, 2022 at 5:43 pm

    Why is requiring that electric car drivers pay the same for using roads as other drivers not the fair and logical solution to this funding shortfall?????

  • December 2, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    If any indication of toll roads like up north are like 20 miles driving on a railroad. Just more money for TDOT to waste. Charge the save the planet electric car owners triple road usage tax! They have already fell for this save the planet hoax anyway.

  • December 2, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    We can pay $500 million of taxpayer funds for an electric car plant in West Tennessee and we can pay anywhere from $500 million to a billion for a football stadium in Nashville for a billionaire owner, subsidize stadiums in Knoxville and Chattanooga for billionaires for millionaire ball players who kneel for the National Anthem, and you need $5 from me to drive the freeway! I think not.

  • December 3, 2022 at 2:36 am

    The legislature will be well advised to reject this ignorant proposal, or as Barney Fife would have said, “Just nip it in the bud!” The state is flush with cash in the rainy day fund, yet, like Mr. Dramm correctly points out above, they seem to have money for Ford and the Titans! And, as inflation rocks Tennessee family budgets, the state may be requesting that Tennessee workers shell out another dollar to drive on a road that should’ve been built with the extra fuel tax! This is a DUMB and untimely idea from a bad bureaucracy. How about they simply make do with what they have, like Tennessee families have had to do over the past 2 years!


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