A state advisory group recently identified $507 million of infrastructure needs in Putnam County, according to a report released earlier this week.
The Putnam County projections for new or improved infrastructure were compiled by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR). The summary provides a top list of infrastructure projects each county in the state considers to be a priority and that will reach some stage of development between July 2015 and June 2020.
Post-secondary education needs, which tops the list as Putnam’s highest priority, includes 44 projects at Tennessee Technological University during the five-year time span. This data is collected by TACIR from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
“Tennessee Tech is such a major player up here and the current president seems to very effective at getting funding for projects,” said Henry Bowman, Research Analyst for the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD).
The first step of the annual survey process requires state agencies – from the Tennessee Board of Regents to the Tennessee Department of Corrections – to submit their infrastructure needs to the state for budgetary consideration.
“We receive all of the infrastructure requests and add them to the budget before any are cut,” said Dave Keiser, TACIR Senior Research Associate.
Each project is then accounted for by being separated into development stages.
“The projects can be in a conceptual stage, in a planning and design stage, a construction stage or it can be complete,” said Keiser. “In the conceptual stage, officials haven’t identified where they are getting the money and to be in construction it needs to be 100 percent funded.”
In Putnam County, roughly $119 million of the $210 million has been fully funded.
The UCDD works closely with the state budget department to help verify this information through surveying city and county leaders as well as local school board members, so the most accurate annual budget projections can be disseminated to the public.
“We compile all our records of perceived needs provided by local leaders and send them off to TACIR,” Bowman said.
According to the TACIR release, Putnam County has experienced a 19 percent population growth rate since 2000, a mark ranking them 17th in the state. With new opportunities drawing people to the Upper Cumberland region, the Putnam County population is increasing on a daily basis.
“Our county is growing,” said Randy Porter, Putnam County Executive. “Since 2014, Putnam County has announced 2,700 jobs and building permits have set records these past several months.”
Putnam County has also seen growth commercially, especially inside the city of Cookeville, with construction projects scheduled out for months. Between working on current roads and looking at new roads to alleviate the traffic needs, Porter believes transportation should be even more of a priority.
“If you add up everything we need, I don’t believe they have us anywhere close to where we need to be as far as transportation,” Porter said.