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Tennessee Needs at Least $68B Worth of Infrastructure Improvements

Date: March 21, 2024

Tennessee needs at least $68 billion worth of public infrastructure improvements during the five-year period of July 2022 to June 2027—a $5 billion (9%) increase from the year before—according to a new report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR), according to a news release.

Health, safety, and welfare infrastructure needs increased by $2 billion—37% of the overall increase in the total estimated cost of the inventory. Over half of this increase—$1 billion—is needed for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, including new projects and increases in the cost of existing projects.

Total estimated costs for current infrastructure needs fall into six general categories:

  • Transportation and Utilities: $35 billion
  • Education: $17 billion
  • Health, Safety, and Welfare: $11 billion
  • Recreation and Culture: $3 billion
  • General Government: $2 billion
  • Economic Development: $239 million

Access the TACIR report.

MTSU Engineering Students Receive $1M Equipment Donation

Date: March 21, 2024

Middle Tennessee State University Engineering Technology students can’t wait for their new Applied Engineering Building to open next year and they’re equally excited about more than $1 million in equipment that may be available to them starting this fall, according to the Rutherford County Source.

Chair Ken Currie said the Engineering Technology Department received transfer of ownership of 10 FLEXBASE automation work centers from Dexcom valued at almost $920,000. The units were sold to Dexcom by La Vergne, Tennessee-based Automation Nth, who committed more than $100,000 in supplies and services to upgrade the units.

Sophomore Daniel Wetter, a mechatronics engineering major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was among a group of students receiving a firsthand look at the equipment that will prepare them for the workforce. “It’s an exciting opportunity for engineering students to develop their skills with robotics for real-world industry experience and hands-on educational opportunities,” Wetter said. “I’m looking forward to the capabilities of our new building and the equipment that will allow us to further understand real-world robotics applications,” he added.

Currie said the equipment “will benefit all students within the engineering and technology programs at MTSU. These are totally integrated workcells with robotics, vision systems and controls that need to be programmed to meet project limitations and constraints.” Read more.

Tennessee PE Named Top FEYA Finalists

Date: February 20, 2024

NSPE recently announced the top 10 finalists for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. The award winner will be announced during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on February 23. Sponsored by the Professional Engineers in Government, this award honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide.

Timothy Fritch, P.E.

Timothy Fritch, P.E.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
Reliability Authority and Regional Operations
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Architecture and Engineering Team for New Nissan Stadium Announced

Date: February 20, 2024

The Tennessee Titans have announced the complete Architecture and Engineering (A&E) team for the New Nissan Stadium. The robust stadium project team is comprised of 24 firms, including nine local businesses and 13 disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs).

"The architecture and engineering team's role is to bring the stadium vision to life and ultimately deliver the construction plans to the construction manager," said Adolpho Birch, Titans senior vice president and chief external & league affairs officer. "We are tremendously excited by this A&E team, both for its considerable talent and its strong mix of local and diverse perspectives."

TVS, announced last year as the stadium's Architect of Record (AOR), will hold all contracts with the subconsultants as they work together through the completion of the stadium design and administration of construction activity. "TVS is unbelievably proud to be a part of the formidable team bringing this transformational New Nissan Stadium to life," said Robert O'Keefe, Principal, TVS. "This project is primed to become the premier destination for some of Nashville's most exciting sports, entertainment and community events for decades to come." Read more.

$21 Million Awarded for EV Charging Stations Across the State

Date: February 20, 2024

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has awarded $21 million in federal funds for electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations across the state, WGRV reports. Thirty-one EV fast charging locations are needed to fill gaps along the state’s designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFC) which include Tennessee’s two-digit interstate routes and US 64. The Tennessee Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (TEVI) Deployment Plan details how with federal funding the state will install EV charging infrastructure and support the establishment of an interconnected EV network across the nation.

“Tennessee has been home to the automotive industry since the 1980s and those automakers are growing electric vehicle manufacturing,” said Deputy Governor & TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “With these federal dollars, Tennessee is investing in its future and paving the way to lead the nation as an EV epicenter. We want to ensure that drivers in any vehicle can safely get across the state from Mountain City to Memphis.”

“In Tennessee, federal investments made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are deploying EV chargers and building out a national network of EV chargers that is convenient, reliable, and made in America,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. Read more.

TDOT Unveils 10-Year Transportation Project Plan

Date: January 19, 2024

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) revealed its first-ever proposed 10-year fiscally-constrained project plan in December, with the goal of better communicating with citizens and communities of the long-term investment strategy for infrastructure in Tennessee.

The $15 billion fiscally constrained plan includes both the annual TDOT work program budget of approximately $1.2 billion for 10 years plus the $3 billion State General Fund appropriation provided in the Transportation Modernization Act (TMA), proposed by Governor Lee, and passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. There are 93 site-specific capacity-type projects in the plan, 46 of which are funded fully or in part by the $3 billion. For the first time, TDOT has identified the funding necessary to complete all projects in the plan, ensuring “what gets started, gets finished.”

This first-ever 10-year fiscally constrained project plan is supported by a new data-driven prioritization process that allows for a more objective review of infrastructure projects across Tennessee. The plan is a road map that will be reevaluated annually to consider the changing needs of our people, economy and infrastructure. It permits a long-term investment strategy that will inform TDOT’s annual budget proposal to the General Assembly for consideration.

Fifty-five percent of the $15 billion is identified for construction projects reflected on the 10-year project plan list, with the remaining 45 percent budgeted for programs that TDOT allocates annually based on need. These programs include, but are not limited to, resurfacing and bridge repair. Further, it is important to note that TDOT will allocate an additional approximately $6 billion in state and federal funds over the next 10 years (nearly $600 million annually) in partnership with airports, transit agencies, counties, cities, and other entities to address multimodal access, mobility, and safety. Read more.

Volkswagen's Knoxville Research is Developing the Future Of EVs

Date: January 19, 2024

Volkswagen has long had a prominent presence in Tennessee. Starting with the Passat in 2011, the Chattanooga plant has churned out a handful of models over the years. The location employs thousands in Tennessee, but Volkswagen isn’t limiting its involvement in The Volunteer State. Just a couple of hours up I-75 in Knoxville, the automaker is working with students from the University of Tennessee (UT) and the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) to research materials, EV technology, and sustainability measures, according to HotCars.

The Volkswagen Innovation Hub is located at the University of Tennessee Research Park, which houses other materials research labs, including some used by ORNL. Opened in 2020, the facility accommodates projects that the automaker said are a “unique blend of world-class academic research and Volkswagen’s leading industry capabilities.”

The team has executed more than 25 joint research projects since 2020, and officials at UT said they plan to pull off another 10 through 2025. As part of the expansion, the university will introduce more PhD fellowships and internship positions at VW and establish more dedicated guest lectures with senior experts from the company. Additionally, the UT System is exploring ways to continue expanding educational and internship opportunities with the automaker. Read more.

TDOT Audit Shows Lack of Inflationary Adjustments

Date: December 15, 2023

An audit of Tennessee’s Department of transportation shows the department hasn’t properly adjusted estimates based on inflation, hasn’t done a proper information systems update analysis in six years and did not have a consistent evaluation system for rest area maintenance.

The audit was presented to a joint government operations subcommittee as the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office presented its findings, The Center Square reports.

It said the inflationary aspects of road repair costs has contributed to the backlog of road construction work that has grown from an estimated $8.5 billion in projects in 2014 to $11 billion in 2017 to $26 billion most recently. Tennessee is one of just six states that does not create debt to accomplish road projects and instead has a pay-as-you-go system for funding road work.

Inflation has increased the cost of steel and aluminum 52%, paint 36%, asphalt 35%, crushed limestone 33% and ready-mix concrete 25%, according to the comptroller.

“The issue we typically have with estimates is that, if a project takes 15 years to get to the leading process, inflation can obviously eat our lunch, if you will,” TDOT Deputy Commissioner Will Reid said. “One of the things that we want to do is take lessons learned in construction and maintenance, feed those back into the delivery process when projects are originally conceived such that we can take those risk out early on.” Read more.

Nuclear Will Be Part of Tennessee’s Clean Energy Future

Date: December 15, 2023

The Tennessee Valley Authority is planning to build what may become the nation’s first mini nuclear plant in Oak Ridge, the place where the first electricity from nuclear power was generated, according to WKMS.

The federal utility has proposed constructing a “small modular reactor,” the industry term for a nuclear plant that is smaller than a conventional plant with parts manufactured in a factory. TVA has obtained some regulatory approval to build a 300-megawatt reactor, about a quarter of the capacity of one of the 1.1-gigawatt units at its nearby Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

Small modular reactors have the same basic technology as conventional nuclear reactors — heating water with uranium and feeding steam into a turbine. But the hope is that these little nukes will be easier and cheaper to build.

“This is a gift that will keep on giving, to the country, to this region and to the world,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm sai during a press conference in Oak Ridge.

The reactor will be built at TVA’s Clinch River site, contained on a 1,200-acre property in Oak Ridge, just outside of Knoxville. Read more.

Tennessee Plan for Toll Lanes, $3.3B in Road Work

Date: November 16, 2023

Tennessee’s Department of Transportation recently met with Governor Bill Lee’s budget team, but its larger long-term plan is on schedule to be released in December, The Center Square reports.

The December plan announcement for the state’s Transportation Modernization Act implementation will include a proposal to spend $3.3 billion in state funds for road work given to the department last year along with the proposal to implement toll lanes into highway plan.

The toll lane plan will allow the department to negotiate deals for private companies to add lanes to Tennessee highways and make those toll lanes, with the private company collecting tolls to recoup their portion of negotiated project costs.

Commissioner Butch Eley said the budget meeting was a huge change from a year before, when his department talked about how it was at a critical funding juncture. “We were facing unprecedented congestion, we were facing a revenue stream or funding stream that is unsustainable and, frankly, it was taking us way too long to get projects completed,” Eley said. Read more.

Tennessee’s Infrastructure Funds to Go Toward Lithium Plant

Date: November 16, 2023

Tennessee is expected to get about $8 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to go toward needed infrastructure enhancements, CNHI News reports. Nearly half a billion of that is planned to position the state for grid production and position Tennessee as a leader in the battery supply chain.

More than $141 million from the 2021 act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will go toward the planned Tennessee Lithium facility in southeast Tennessee’s McMinn County. The facility is anticipated to produce 30,000 metric tons per year of lithium hydroxide for the domestic battery and electric vehicle market.

The project is expected to double the lithium hydroxide production capacity currently available in the United States. “Piedmont Lithium plans to invest approximately $600 million in the development of Tennessee Lithium, drive significant economic activity and create approximately 120 new, direct jobs,” according to the project summary. “Piedmont plans to partner with local organizations and community stakeholders to support necessary training programs for local employees and contribute to philanthropic and civic efforts in the region.” Read more.

Nashville is Getting a New Rooftop Solar Program

Date: November 16, 2023

According to WPLN, rooftop solar will soon be more affordable for some people in Nashville.

The Nashville Electric Service is creating a new program to pay households with solar panels that produce excess electricity. The program was designed through a new contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Between 1,000 and 1,200 homes will be able to participate in the program, based on the cap of 10 megawatts in the contract. Households that already have solar systems will be automatically switched into the program. NES estimated that about 700 homes have solar in their service territory, leaving room for 300 to 500 more households. “The teams at NES and TVA will work the remainder of 2023 on details and plan to open the program mid-winter timeframe,” NES said in a statement.

Nationally, solar panels cover the rooftops of 3% of all households. In Nashville, or in the NES service territory, just 0.16% of households have solar. The new program would increase that share, under the higher estimate, to 0.28%. Read more.

$1.28 Billion Coming to Tennessee for Infrastructure Projects

Date: October 18, 2023

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has announced that Tennessee is set to receive more than $1 billion in funding for infrastructure repairs and projects, according to WKRN. The funding supports investment in critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges and tunnels, carbon emission reduction, and safety improvements via 12 formula programs. The funding will also support workforce development for the projects and go directly to Tennessee, providing transportation leaders within the state with flexibility to continue the work of rebuilding roads and bridges and improving the transportation systems.

The largest investment in Tennessee comes from the National Highway Performance Program, with more than $641 million. The smallest amount is more than $5 million for the Railway-Highway Crossings Program. Read more.

TSU Gets $2 Million Grant to Boost Retention, Diversity in Engineering

A $2.25 million grant awarded to Tennessee State University aims to boost retention and diversity in the engineering field. TSU’s College of Engineering was awarded the grant money from the National Science Foundation.

Scholarships will be given to first-year students to help with the financial strains of the major. “It’s just something that you have to put constant time into,” said Cameron Anderson, a freshman engineering major. “I’ve always been drawn to engineering. Growing up as a kid, I loved robotics.”

Administrators found students like the program, but some couldn’t afford to stay due to the combination of course workload and needing to fund their education through extra jobs. The grant will help them stay on track with passing pre-math and physics classes. “I feel like it’s very important. It gives somewhat of an incentive to stay in. I know some people give up on it for financial reasons,” said Anderson. Read more from WKRN.

TVA Investing $15 Billion Over Next Three Years Amid Growth in the Region

Date: October 18, 2023

A $15 billion investment by the TVA is expected to be phased into various initiatives over the next three years. The main plans are to build additional generation, upgrade TVA’s existing system to better meet electricity demands, and maintain energy security, WBKO reports.

“It took us 90 years to build our current power system which positively changed the lives of millions,” said TVA president and CEO Jeff Lyash. “In the next 30 years, we will have to double or triple the current systems at a speed unlike any other time in TVA history to ensure we can continue to provide affordable, reliable, resilient, and sustainable energy to fuel the region’s economic growth.”

TVA is the nation’s largest public power supplier, delivering energy to 10 million people across seven southeastern states. Several area electric companies buy their power from TVA. The electric load did not grow much during the decade before the pandemic but has since seen “tremendous economic growth.” TVA is adding 3,800 megawatts of new power generation and said they have invested $25 billion in existing and new generation over the last 10 years. More than 10,000 megawatts of new solar energy is expected to be added by 2035. Read more.

TN Agency Announces $63 Million in Water Infrastructure Improvements

Date: September 19, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recently announced 20 grants totaling $63,888,650 from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering in the form of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants. 

Since August 2022, TDEC has awarded and announced $996 million in executed grant funds representing every county and 248 cities through ARP programming, and these new grants mark the conclusion of the award phase of the non-competitive grant program.

Of the 20 grants, two are collaborative grants and 18 are non-collaborative grants. Collaborative grants involve multiple entities (cities, counties, or water utilities) partnering on projects to work toward a shared purpose. The non-competitive grant program will fund a total of 266 non-collaborative grants and 71 collaborative grants. The non-competitive grant program has been a success, funding over 1,000 individual drinking water, wastewater, and/or stormwater infrastructure projects. 

Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billion of those funds to TDEC to support water projects in communities throughout Tennessee. Read more.

TVA and First Solar Partner for Solar Project

Date: August 16, 2023

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has announced a partnership with First Solar for the development of a solar project in the region, according to a report from

This project is part of TVA’s increasing focus on solar energy and aims to integrate more renewable generation into its portfolio. By 2025, the Tennessee Valley is expected to be home to one of the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing facilities in the United States, as First Solar plans to commission its fourth American factory in the region. The company is investing approximately $1.3 billion in expanding its US manufacturing footprint, with a goal of increasing its annual nameplate capacity from 6.5 GWDC to 10.9 GWDC by 2026.

The partnership between TVA and First Solar will contribute to the growth of solar energy in the region. Through this collaboration, TVA will be able to incorporate solar technology developed and manufactured in America into its overall energy system. Read more.

University of Tennessee Commits to $1.9 Billion Capital Plan

Date: August 16, 2023

According to a report from Engineering News-Record, a nearly $2-billion funding plan approved by University of Tennessee trustees signals the go-ahead for 15 new capital projects at five locations including research, science and housing facilities along with a planned entertainment district for Neyland Stadium, home of the university's football team.

The university's Board of Trustees approved capital outlay plans through fiscal year 2028-29, including more than $1.54 billion for new construction and major renovation, almost $364 million for capital maintenance projects and $4.5 million for related demolition.

The largest project is a $350-million College of Medicine building on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) campus in Memphis.

Plans call for a $231.6 million Interdisciplinary Health, Research and Clinic building and $199-million chemistry building, both at the Knoxville campus, according to the UT master plan announced earlier this year and the funding approval in June. A construction timeline has not been set, and demolition work is needed before the two Knoxville projects can begin – including knocking down the 1920s-era Jessie Harris Building, scheduled to receive funding in FY 2027-28, and the Panhellenic Building, built in 1964, which will be funded in FY 2024-25. Read more.

Governor Names Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council Appointees

Date: July 19, 2023

Governor Bill Lee announced appointments to the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, recently created by Executive Order 101 to position Tennessee as a national leader for nuclear energy innovation and advancement.

The appointees bring a broad range of industry experience that will build upon the state’s legacy in nuclear innovation and drive continued investment to create a nuclear energy ecosystem for the future of Tennessee, including business development, government relations and stewardship of natural resources. Access the full list of appointees here.

“Tennessee can lead America’s energy independence and deliver continued economic growth with safe, reliable and clean nuclear energy for the future,” said Governor Lee. “I am confident that these appointees will use their unique industry expertise to ensure that Tennessee is the top state for nuclear energy companies to invest and succeed, creating quality jobs and greater opportunity for Tennesseans.”

In addition to signing Executive Order 101 this year, Lee also partnered with the Tennessee General Assembly to create a $50 million Nuclear Fund in the state’s Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget. The fund, proposed by the governor at his 2023 State of the State address in February, will establish a nuclear development and manufacturing ecosystem built for the future of Tennessee by providing grants and assistance to support nuclear power-related businesses that choose to relocate or grow in the state. Read more.

TN Commission Looks to Passenger Train Infrastructure to Improve State's Economy

Date: July 19, 2023

A Tennessee commission tasked with studying and recommending changes to improve the state's transportation infrastructure suggested building more rail lines in specific areas of the state, reports.

The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations investigated the potential for passenger rail service and other alternatives for linking the state's major cities. In the report, they identified five potential routes that should be investigated further. They also sorted those routes into three ties, based on their importance.

The routes are the following:

  • Tier 1 (one route)—Nashville to Chattanooga to Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tier 2 (two routes)—Memphis to Nashville; and Chattanooga to Knoxville to Bristol
  • Tier 3 (two routes)—Memphis to Carbondale, Illinois, to Chicago; and Nashville to Louisville, Kentucky

According to the report, the Tennessee Department of Transportation estimated travel times between major Tennessee cities will increase by up to one hour without improvements to the state's infrastructure, as the state grows. They said as a result, driving from Nashville to Knoxville would turn into a four-hour trip. Read more.

MTS University Celebrates Construction of New Engineering Building

Date: July 19, 2023

Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, recently celebrated the start of construction on a 90,000-square-foot, three-story Applied Engineering Building, REJournals reports.

The new building will serve as a home for the Engineering Technology and Mechatronics Engineering programs as well as provide space for future engineering programs to meet the growing demand for graduates in this expanding industry.

The AEB will be centered around collaborative, hands-on learning and will include flexible learning and laboratory spaces, spacious gathering areas, lobby areas to feature technology displays and student projects and lecture space to host faculty instruction, guest speakers, special events, and student-led organizations.

In addition, the new building will provide research laboratory spaces and technologies to both faculty and students. These new spaces will create research collaborations that support the exploration of emerging technologies, experiential and integrative learning applied to real-world problems and applied engineering solutions while fostering opportunities for research partnerships with businesses, industry organizations, government agencies and other educational institutions.

With design led by Wold Architects and Engineers, a local architectural and engineering firm with extensive education design expertise, alongside Cooper Carry, this new hands-on learning environment will prepare students for a broad range of professional careers in engineering and technology disciplines. Read more.

Governor Highlights $3.3B Transportation Act with “Build with Us Tour” Stops

Date: June 20, 2023

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently announced a statewide “Build with Us Tour” to celebrate the landmark Transportation Modernization Act and highlight key infrastructure priorities across rural and urban Tennessee. Governor Lee’s travel will include stops in all three Grand Divisions throughout June and July, Fox13 Memphis reports.

“As Tennessee continues to experience record growth, the Transportation Modernization Act will ensure our roads keep up with the pace,” Lee stated in a release.

“This summer, I look forward to seeing how our new transportation strategy will prepare rural and urban Tennessee for continued economic growth and opportunity, without new taxes or debt, and I thank the legislature for its partnership to ensure our state’s success.”

Lee introduced the Transportation Modernization Act this year and signed it into law on April 17, following successful bipartisan passage in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The plan creates a new transportation strategy and will invest an additional $3.3 billion to accommodate Tennessee’s record growth, address traffic congestion and meet transportation needs across rural and urban communities.

The strategy will give the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) the resources needed to solve the state’s current and future mobility challenges. Read more.

TDEC Announces Nearly $300 Million in Additional Water Infrastructure Investments

Date: June 20, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recently announced 131 grants totaling $299.2 million from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering in the form of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants. Since August, TDEC has awarded and announced $933.6 million in grant funds through ARP programming.

Of the 131 grants announced, 29 are collaborative grants and 102 are non-collaborative grants. Collaborative grants involve multiple entities (cities, counties, or water utilities) partnering on projects to work toward a shared purpose. All grants awarded represent 469 individual drinking water, wastewater, and/or stormwater infrastructure projects.  

Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billion of those funds to TDEC to support water projects in communities throughout the state. Of the $1.35 billion, approximately $1 billion was designated for non-competitive formula-based grants offered to counties and eligible cities to address systems’ critical needs. Those include developing Asset Management Plans, addressing significant non-compliance, updating aging infrastructure, mitigating water loss for drinking water systems, and reducing inflow and infiltration for wastewater systems.

The grants recently announced are part of the $1 billion non-competitive grant program. The remaining funds ($269 million) will go to state-initiated projects and competitive grants. Read more.

TVA Proposes Methane Gas Plant Outside of Nashville

Date: June 20, 2023

In the past year, the Tennessee Valley Authority has proposed nearly 4 gigawatts of new fossil fuel generation — or about 10% of the utility’s current electricity capacity, 90.3 wpln news reports.

TVA approved plans for a large gas turbine at Cumberland in January and proposed gas peaker plants for its notorious Kingston site in May. It just revealed plans to burn more gas on land right outside of Nashville.

On the same day that TVA announced that it was starting a new study of its power system, the authority outlined a plan for a methane gas plant, a 12-mile pipeline and a battery system in Cheatham County, on a site near Ashland City that would generate 900 megawatts of power.

The “scoping” process is the first public step in TVA’s regulatory timeline to build new a power plant. The federal utility is supposed to consider all its options and gather public feedback before preparing a formal environmental review. Read more.

Governor Signs Landmark Transportation Modernization Act Into Law

Date: May 16, 2023

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently signed the Transportation Modernization Act. This legislation will create a new strategy and invest $3.3 billion to accommodate Tennessee’s record growth, address traffic congestion, and meet transportation needs across rural and urban communities. The Act received bipartisan legislative support and was backed by dozens of organizations across the state, according to a news release.

“As families and businesses move to Tennessee in record numbers, we need a transportation plan to keep up with the pace,” said Governor Lee. “Our strategy will meet our state’s transportation needs across rural and urban communities, without new taxes or debt. I commend the General Assembly for its partnership to prepare Tennessee for continued growth and economic opportunity.”

The plan will give the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) the resources needed to solve the state’s current and future mobility challenges, including seeking the use of public-private partnerships to preserve state funds for rural infrastructure priorities, exploring Choice Lanes to decrease congestion and increase economic impact statewide, and expanding the alternative delivery model to save taxpayer dollars and deliver road projects more efficiently.

“Tennessee is facing a critical juncture when it comes to mobility, and our new transportation strategy will prepare TDOT to build and maintain roads across rural and urban communities,” said TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “I appreciate the work of the legislature and key partners to ensure continued prosperity throughout Tennessee.” Read more.

Vanderbilt Students Design Park Underneath I-40 Bridge

Date: May 16, 2023

Vanderbilt University engineering students Baker Harrington, Alex Holzke, Katie Reed, and Rachel Roberts presented a plan to bring new life to the space underneath I-40 near 2nd and 4th avenues, WKRN reports.

For the last year, these students created a new park, filled with pickle and basketball courts, bathrooms, parking lots, and even a pedestrian bridge. “Initially, we wanted to provide access for both sides to just pass through, but our thought was, if we provide a park in the middle, it will bring people together,” said Harrington.

Joe Mayes with the Civic Design Center has seen a lot of ideas sent his way to redevelop this space over the last several years. “Right now, they look very empty, so how do we create something for the community?” he said.

The Civic Design Center, along with engineering firm Barge Design Solutions, partnered with these students to help them bring their ideas to life.

Drawing inspiration from other cities like Birmingham, Portland and Boston help these students create and engineer this park design key stakeholders within the community were able to visualize. Read more.

Tennessee Titans Receive Approval for New LEED-Certified Enclosed Stadium

Date: May 16, 2023

The Tennessee Titans football team has received final approval from the Metropolitan Nashville Council to move forward with plans to build a new, enclosed, LEED-Certified stadium on Nashville’s East Bank of the Cumberland River, the E+E Leader reports.

The deal, a historic $2.1 billion agreement, is the largest in Nashville’s history and includes at least $1.26 billion in public funding. This will make it the largest public subsidy for a stadium in US history.

The stadium agreement includes a new 30-year lease and non-relocation agreement between the Titans and Sports Authority. The new terms end the current obligations of Nashville’s General Fund, which were maintaining and upgrading the stadium. The new lease will return 66 acres of land to the city of Nashville.

The city plans to renovate and develop the current stadium area into a new neighborhood along the Cumberland River. It is anticipated that the neighborhood will bring in over a billion dollars to Nashville’s General Fund over the next 30 years.

Over the life of the new lease, the Tennessee Titans will contribute nearly $48 million to Nashville Needs Impact Fund. The fund directed by Metro Council supports city needs such as public education, public transit, and affordable housing, to name a few. Read more.

Tennessee to Get $203 Million in Water Infrastructure Investments

Date: April 19, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced 43 grants totaling $203,244,525 from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering in the form of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants.

Of the 43 grants, 14 are collaborative grants and 29 are non-collaborative grants, representing 132 individual projects, according to a Local 3 News report. This brings the total ARP funds awarded by TDEC to $401,694,562 since August.

Governor Bill Lee commented on the significance of these grants, saying, “These grants will address important water infrastructure needs across rural and urban Tennessee communities. We look forward to the improvements these projects will bring, and we commend the communities who have gone through the application process.” Read more.

Tennessee Tech Unveils First Electric Bus to Serve a Rural Area in Tennessee

Date: April 19, 2023

Tennessee Tech engineers have teamed up with the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency on a new, electric shuttle bus that’s been three years in the making, according to a News Channel 4 report.

“It is the very first electric shuttle bus in rural transit agency in Tennessee and we’re proud to make that happen,” said Tennessee Tech Engineering Associate Professor Pingen Chen.
The shuttle is the latest push from Tech engineers and researchers to change perceptions about electric vehicles. While EVs are becoming more popular in urban areas, they’re still rare in rural communities. Chen says a lot of that has to do with a lack of familiarity with the vehicles, as the spread of information can take longer to reach far-out areas.

Day-to-day, the new shuttle will move students and the larger community around town. While it does, researchers will study how electric public transportation can work in less populated towns.  It’s a case study they hope will serve as an example for rural areas across the south. The UCHRA owns the vehicle, with support from TDOT and the US Department of Transportation’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Read more.

Tennessee Tech Aerospace Engineering Research Team to Develop Electric-Powered Commercial Aircraft

Date: April 19, 2023

NASA has chosen Tennessee Tech engineering researchers to lead a team of five universities and three industry partners in the CarbonLess Electric AviatioN (CLEAN) project as part of the agency’s University Leadership Initiative, Local 3 News reports. With an estimated budget of $8 million, the project is tasked with developing an electrified, 150-passenger aircraft with an ammonia-based integrated propulsion, power, and thermal management system to meet the ambitious goal of zero-emission air travel by 2050.

The team is led by Rory Roberts, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering and head of the Propulsion, Power, and Thermal Systems Laboratory at Tech and includes faculty members Bruce Jo, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Ahmad Vaselbehagh, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

The project will not only help solve one of aviation's key challenges for the future, but also create opportunity for aerospace workforce development. The team will directly employ 98 undergraduate and graduate students as researchers across the five universities, with 58 opportunities at Tech alone. This will provide students with the necessary skills and future technologies the aerospace industry will depend on as they develop next-generation aircraft. Read more.

Unprecedented Growth Spurs Need for Better Infrastructure in Tennessee

Date: March 15, 2023

Amid unprecedented growth in Tennessee, lawmakers are seeking solutions to outdated infrastructure, reports WKRN.

Governor Bill Lee announced in his annual State of the State address he’s recommending over $3 billion extra to fund TDOT’s road project. Part of that project includes lanes for which people can pay to use and potentially bypass traffic. Although there has some been contention over whether to call these “toll roads” or “choice lanes,” the general idea of expanding the state’s infrastructure has bipartisan support.

It currently takes more than 15 years to finish a road project. Tennessee leadership is aiming to bring that down to five. Lee’s proposal allocates $750 million dollars for each of the four TDOT regions across the state. Read more.

Tennessee Needs $62.9 Billion in Infrastructure Improvements

Date: March 15, 2023

Tennessee needs at least $62.9 billion worth of public infrastructure improvements during the five-year period of July 2021 to June 2026—a $1.2 billion (2.0%) increase from the year before—according to a new report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).

Infrastructure needs for Transportation and Utilities increased for the seventh year in a row ($750 million) and continues to be the largest category in the inventory, with $35.2 billion in total needs (56.1% of the inventory). Read more.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Y-12 Draws Hundreds of East TN Students

Date: March 15, 2023

According to WATE-TV in Knoxville, 600 female high school students from across East Tennessee were in Oak Ridge to learn more about careers in STEM.

The students came from 18 schools to participate in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The goal of the day was to “inspire girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math,” according to a release from Consolidated Nuclear Security. It expands Consolidated Nuclear Security’s relationships with area schools to develop its future workforce. Kristin Waldschlager, a CNS educational outreach specialist, said teaching students about STEM-related opportunities is “crucial” for Y-12.

“We have a sense of responsibility to make sure we support the development and growth of future scientists and engineers who could be working here,” said Waldschlager. Read more.

NSPE-TN Member Named Top FEYA Finalist

Date: February 14, 2023

Stephen Craven, Ph.D., P.E.

Stephen Craven, Ph.D., P.E.,was named a top 10 finalist for NSPE’s Federal Engineer of the Year Award. He serves as an electrical engineer, networks/WAN specialist at the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Craven and the other finalists will be recognized during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on February 24.

The Federal Engineer of the Year Award honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide. These nominees have made extensive contributions to their organizations and also to the public that PEs ultimately serve.

Tennessee’s Infrastructure Needs Keep Growing

Date: February 14, 2023

Tennessee’s list of infrastructure projects needed to support transportation, education, and public safety grew for the seventh consecutive year, according to a new report from the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

The price tag for all of the state’s needs has reached $62.9 billion. That’s a more than $1 billion increase over last year’s total, which officials say is driven in part by inflation. Why it matters: The report underscores the urgent need for better roads and bridges as the state’s population continues to soar.

Governor Bill Lee has made infrastructure improvements a top legislative priority this year, with his administration looking for new ways to fund road projects. Read more from Axios.

Broadway Bridge Design Leaves Room for Future Transit Lanes

Date: February 14, 2023

According to News Channel 5 Nashville, if you’ve been to downtown Nashville, you’ve likely traveled over the Broadway Bridge.

It spans 700 feet, going over 11th Avenue and the railyard in the Gulch, next to the historic Union Station Hotel and the new Nashville Yards development. The bridge has seen everything from horses and buggies to streetcars to modern-day commuters.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation says it’s time for the bridge to be replaced. But the design for Nashville’s signature street has sparked controversy. Read more.

TDEC Announces Additional $125.9 Million in Water Infrastructure Investments

Date: January 18, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recently announced that $125,954,007 from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund will be administered through 24 grants for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure projects.

The recent grants follow the announcement of 18 grants totaling $72,496,030 from the ARP fund in August and October, bringing the total awarded by TDEC year-to-date to $198,450,037, according to a news release. This month’s grants include two collaborative grants and 22 non-collaborative grants to execute drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure planning, design, and construction projects.

Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billion of those funds to TDEC to support water projects in communities throughout Tennessee.

“These grants will address important water infrastructure needs throughout our state, especially those among disadvantaged communities,” Governor Bill Lee said. “We look forward to the improvements the projects will bring, and we commend the communities who have gone through the application process.” Read more.

Harnessing Tennessee’s Wind Energy Potential

Date: January 18, 2023

Wind power accounts for nearly half of all renewable energy in the US, and virtually all of it comes from outside the Southeast. It doesn’t have to, though, according to WPLN News.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, for example, has 0.025 gigawatts of wind in Tennessee. That is less than what’s needed to power Vanderbilt University, and the federal utility does not currently have plans for any additional wind development.

Tennessee could, however, make wind its dominant source of power, according to data analysis by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

“If communities and wind developers were to follow best management practices, Tennessee would have 73 gigawatts of potential,” said Anthony Lopez, a senior researcher at NREL who leads their research on renewable potential in the US. Read more.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 15, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $3.6 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to Tennessee with over 115 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about Tennessee projects here.

TN Department of Education Awards $800K in STEM Funding

Date: December 15, 2022

The Tennessee Department of Education has awarded $800,000 in grant to 34 districts for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, middle school career and technical education (CTE), and high school school-based enterprise projects.   

Funding is provided through Governor Lee’s Future Workforce Initiative, which boosts access to CTE, STEM, and Work-Based Learning (WBL) in the classroom. For the past two years, the department awarded start-up and expansion funding for middle school STEM and CTE programs and included a high school opportunity to qualify for school-based enterprise funding to increase enrollment in WBL courses.

“Tennessee continues to provide more pathways to help students transition from middle to high school, and these grants help ensure students have increased access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities, STEM, and career technical education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are thrilled that we can make these opportunities happen over the last two years and help students be successful during high school and into their postsecondary and workforce careers.” Read more.

Tennessee Solidifies Right-to-Work Law

Date: November 17, 2022

Tennessee's "right-to-work" law, which has been in effect for 75 years, has been added to the state's constitution after a vote on November 8. This makes it more difficult for the law to be overturned, according to

The move was opposed by labor unions and supported by some business leaders and Governor Bill Lee. The law states workers cannot be compelled to join unions as a requirement of their jobs. Bradley Jackson, president of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it makes Tennessee more business friendly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7% of engineers in the US were represented by unions; 5.9% were members in 2021. Read more.

Renewable Energy Company to Expand Operations in Knoxville

Date: November 17, 2022

Hitachi Zosen Inova USA LLC (HZI USA) recently announced that the company will invest $6.6 million to expand operations at its Knoxville, Tennessee, North American headquarters, according to a news release.

HZI USA, which relocated its North American hub from Georgia to Tennessee in 2020, will create 90 new jobs in Knox County. The additional jobs will support the company's engineering, procurement and construction projects, as well as its project developments, allowing the company to broaden its footprint and more than triple the number of employees at its Tennessee operations.

Hitachi Zosen Inova is the Swiss-based renewable energy arm of Japan's Hitachi Zosen Corporation. HZI's US operations specialize in converting municipal and agriculture waste into clean, renewable electricity, natural gas, and hydrogen. Through the expansion, Hitachi Zosen will employ nearly 12,000 worldwide. Read more.

Ford Breaks Ground on Electric Vehicle Battery Production Complex

Date: October 20, 2022

Ford Motor Company has broken ground at BlueOval City, which the company calls its largest, most advanced auto production complex in Ford’s 119-year history.

Structural steel was erected on the site less than one year after Ford and SK On, a global EV battery manufacturer, announced their $5.6 billion investment to build electric batteries for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles in West Tennessee. The nearly 6-square-mile mega campus will create approximately 6,000 new jobs when production begins in 2025.

With construction underway at BlueOval City, Ford – America’s No. 2 electric vehicle brand – gets closer to its target of a 2 million EV production run rate globally by late 2026. Read more.

Water Infrastructure Gets Infusion of Rescue Plan Funds

Date: October 20, 2022

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation recently announced 12 grants totaling more than $34.5 million from the state’s American Rescue Plan fund, part of which the agency is administering in the form of water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants.

“These grants will address important water infrastructure needs across our state, especially in disadvantaged communities,” Governor Bill Lee commented. “We commend communities who have gone through the application process, and we look forward to the substantial improvements the grants will bring.”

The funds will be used, among other things, to address water loss and distribution challenges, for stormwater improvement projects, conservation and improved supply management, limiting overflows, and repairing aging water infrastructure in various communities across the state. Find out more.

Tennessee Offers New Pathways to the PE

Date: September 21, 2022

The Tennessee Legislature passed a law that provides additional pathways for an individual to qualify to become a professional licensed engineer. The law (S.B. 2479), which also updates qualifications to become a licensed landscape architect, became effective on July 1.

The first pathway requires that a licensure applicant be a graduate of a four-year curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree (approved by the board) and must complete post-graduate coursework leading to a master’s degree or higher in engineering (approved by the board). The candidate must also pass the FE and PE exams and have a minimum eight years of experience.

The second pathway allows an individual to apply for licensure if they have graduated from an ABET/ETAC-accredited four-year engineering technology program (approved by the board), hold a postgraduate degree in engineering from an institution with an ABET/EAC-accredited undergraduate engineering program (approved by the board), have a minimum eight years of experience, and have passed the FE and PE exams. Read more.

Broadband Access Funded by State Government

Date: September 21, 2022

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter announced the state will award more than $446 million in grants for the expansion of internet access across the state.

In total, the broadband infrastructure grants will provide broadband access to more than 150,000 unserved homes and businesses across 58 counties.

According to a 2020 Federal Communications Commission report, one in six rural Tennesseans lacks access to broadband. Since 2018, TNECD has awarded nearly $120 million in broadband grants through state and federal funding to serve more than 140,000 Tennessee households.

"To achieve economic growth and prosperity, it's imperative that Tennessee's communities have the proper infrastructure in place," McWhorter said.

Six Counties to Get Water Infrastructure Upgrades

Date: September 21, 2022

Six water infrastructure grants will provide much-needed upgrades to existing system components in as many counties in Tennessee. The grants are part of $3.7 billion American Rescue Plan funds sent to the state, according to the Cheatham County Exchange. $1.32 billion was designated for waterworks projects.

"We continue experiencing considerable growth across the state, and many of our communities require additional resources to address their evolving needs," Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton was quoted.

The grants went to Greene County, Johnson County, Unicoi County, Warren County, Mountain City, and Clarksville.

Skyhawk Solar Project Construction Underway

Date: August 17, 2022

Thanks to a partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority, Origis Energy, and Excelsior Energy Capital, construction has started on the Skyhawk Solar project — a 100-MW solar facility in Obion County. The solar project will supply carbon-free energy to Google’s hyperscale data centers in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Jackson County, Alabama.

Skyhawk Solar was developed through TVA’s Green Invest, a utility-scale solar solution that offers business and industry an effective, timely, and cost-competitive solar solution to aggressively meet sustainability goals. The program matches customer-driven commitments for renewable energy with new utility-scale solar facilities to be constructed in the Tennessee Valley.

“TVA has the cleanest power system in the southeast and we are helping attract sustainability-focused companies that bring jobs and investments to this region,” said Doug Perry, senior VP of TVA Commercial Energy Solutions. Read more.

Camp for High Schoolers Fosters an Interest in Engineering

Date: August 17, 2022

Tennessee Tech recently held an engineering and computer camp for high schoolers, actionnews5 reports. The camp, geared toward future engineers, helps familiarize the young students with the world of engineering and the many disciplines available to those in the field.

At the camp, students learn from professors at Tennessee Tech from many different departments including chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing and engineering technology, and mechanical engineering.

One engineering student at the college credits the camp with enticing them to major in the field.

Federal Funds for Infrastructure to Bolster State Tourism

Date: July 20, 2022

The US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration is investing $4.1 million in the City of Pigeon Forge to support the recovery and growth of the local tourism economy via infrastructure improvements and resiliency measures. These grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan.

A $3.3 million grant will be spent on transportation infrastructure improvements in the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and on US 411 in Sevier County, to allow increased capacity for visitors traveling to the region's recreational attractions and special events. The EDA investment will be matched with $2 million in local funds.

Another $774,600 grant for Pigeon Forge will support development of a regional recovery strategy to plan resilience to future economic shocks. The EDA investment will be matched with $1.5 million in state and local funds. Read more.

PFAs Found in Drinking Water Near DOD Sites

Date: July 20, 2022

Recently released data from the Department of Defense show high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) found in drinking water near military bases, including in Tennessee, reports. The EPA says no level of the toxic, cancer-causing chemicals are considered safe for human consumption.

The chemicals were found in groundwater near 400 military installations in 18 other states, as well.

In June, the EPA issued four drinking water health advisories relating to PFAs. To help combat PFAS pollution, it has also invited states to apply for part of $1 billion in funding to address contaminants in drinking water, specifically in small or disadvantaged communities. An additional $4 billion will ultimately be available for this purpose as part of infrastructure law grant funding.

Volkswagen Opens Cutting-Edge Battery Engineering Lab

Date: June 18, 2022

A new $22 million Battery Engineering Lab in Chattanooga will be Volkswagen of America’s flagship facility for battery expertise. Opened earlier this month, the 32,000 square foot facility will enable Volkswagen to gain a competitive edge in the push to electric mobility, the company stated in a news release.

The company’s engineering group in Chattanooga consists of more than 100 engineers in various roles. They are focused on sustainability; when batteries are discharged during testing, the energy produced will be transferred back into the building, and local public grid and scrapped materials will be recycled.

Building the Battery Engineering Lab from the ground up allowed Volkswagen to install highly specialized equipment, such as the electrical Multi-Axial Shaker Table. The machine allows for extreme vibration tests to simulate one average year of driving (15,000 km or about 9,321 mi) in just one week.

School Districts Identified for ‘Clean’ School Buses

Date: June 18, 2022

About 80 Tennessee school districts were selected by the Environmental Protection Agency as having priority for “clean” school bus funding, WPLN reports. Prioritized school districts were identified as high-need, low-income, and rural.

The funding will help districts replace older, heavily polluting buses with new ones that use greener technology. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said this “will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities.” Read more.

New Airport in Oak Ridge Could Draw Industry, Development

Date: May 18, 2022

This year's state budget includes $11 million for a new general aviation airport in Oak Ridge, which could help draw industry to the area, according to the Oak Ridger.

"Oak Ridge is becoming a center for innovation, and the new airport will connect it with the rest of the country and support the economic growth of the region," a news release from the Tennessee Republican Caucus stated.

The airport will be located at the East Tennessee Technology Park, a 1,300-acre industrial site at the former K-25 site and near Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"…companies are locating at ETTP and investing millions of dollars in advanced energy research and development as well as medical isotope production," the news release stated. A medical isotope company, Coquí Pharma has expressed interest in the ETTP site.

The airport would not have commercial flights. In total, the project is expected to cost about $55 million and is relying on funding from various sources. An environmental assessment and preliminary engineering study is in its beginning stages, and the airport is slated to open in 2025.

Tennessee Valley Authority Releases Sustainability Report

Date: May 18, 2022

The Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public power provider, released its Fiscal Year 2021 Sustainability Report sharing the agency's comprehensive efforts to be a national leader in environmental, social and governance initiatives as it creates a more sustainable future across seven states.

"Sustainability is deeply rooted in TVA's culture, and it's our cornerstone as we deliver innovative solutions that are transforming our seven-state region and beyond," said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO.

Through solar energy, transportation electrification, advanced nuclear technology and energy justice efforts, TVA says it uses sustainability as a competitive advantage to attract jobs and investment. The agency's mission is to position itself and the communities it serves as sustainability leaders as the nation drives toward net-zero emissions.

Tennessee National Guard Recognized for Best Environmental Program

Date: April 19, 2022

The Tennessee National Guard's Construction and Facilities Management Office Environmental Program was awarded an Environmental Stewardship Trophy for best overall environmental program.

The award goes to the state or territory with the highest overall score in cleanup, conservation, energy, and construction by the National Guard Bureau's Installations and Environment Directorate. Tennessee achieved the maximum allotted score in conservation, in addition to high scores in the other sections.

Conservation and compliance is crucial to the National Guard's environmental responsibilities. The Department of Defense owns 8.8 million acres of land in the United States, with 13,790 acres managed by the Tennessee National Guard. Land conservation is vital to the future force readiness, the agency says.

Coalition Urges Valley Authority to Move Faster Toward Renewable Energy

Date: April 19, 2022

A new coalition is pushing the Tennessee Valley Authority to work toward independence from fossil fuels by 2030, but the provider's goal is 2050, to ensure low-cost and reliable energy, the Memphis Flyer reports.

The Clean Up TVA Coalition is made up of dozens of organizations, including environmental, social justice, and political groups like the Memphis NAACP, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Sierra Club, Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light, Appalachian Voices, and more.

The coalition was formed in response to TVA's desire to replace its Kingston and Cumberland coal plants with new methane gas plants and 149 miles of new gas pipeline. The utility reportedly has the second-highest planned gas buildout by 2030 among all major utilities. The coalition is urging TVA to invest instead in clean energy, such as solar, storage, and energy efficiency, to replace the utility's fossil fuel fleet, especially the retiring plants.

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Civil Engineer III/Office Leader

Memphis, TN

Engineering Manager
Clarksville, TN

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Tennessee PE Honored as FEYA Finalist

Date: March 14, 2022

Christopher Saucier, P.E., was recently honored as a top 10 finalist for NSPE’s Federal Engineer of the Year Award for his work on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Boone Dam Remediation Project in Kingsport, Tennessee. Saucier and the other finalists were recognized prior to the announcement of a winner during a virtual awards event on February 24. Robert Zueck, Ph.D., P.E., was named the 2022 FEYA winner.

The Federal Engineer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Professional Engineers in Government, honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide. These nominees have made extensive contributions to their organizations and also to the public that PEs ultimately serve.

Chris Saucier P.E.

Leading Project Manager Brings Boone Dam Remediation to a Close
After nearly seven years of remediation work, Boone Dam is expected to reopen to the public this summer. Christopher Saucier, P.E., was the principal project manager and technical director for the Boone Dam Internal Erosion Remediation Project, the largest dam safety modification program in agency history. The final construction piece of the dam’s recovery, a composite seepage barrier (cutoff wall), is anticipated to provide value beyond remediation costs and ensure public safety through enhanced risk reduction measures. Guiding a team of 60 engineers, geologists, and geographic information specialists, Saucier led development of new project structures and processes—coordinating efforts and communications between TVA design and construction teams and external contractors.

Aligned with the numerous technical advancements achieved during the project, Saucier facilitated new strategies for agency reviews and approvals required for project closure and reservoir operation, further advancing TVA’s implementation of risk-informed decision making. He also developed steps for evaluating project implementation impacts on TVA’s dam safety risk profile. Following the final stage of remediation, which demonstrated successful performance during reservoir refilling, an external independent review board recognized the project’s successful best practices as exemplary.

Chattanooga Sewage System Upgrades Will Stop River Contamination

Date: March 14, 2022

Chattanooga’s sewer and storm water systems are receiving infrastructure upgrades in an effort to reduce sanitary sewer overflows after heavy rainfall. The city’s old sewer system combined sewage and rainfall into one system, causing repeated overflow into the Tennessee River, according to Water and Wastes Digest.

The project, “Clear Chattanooga,” includes major upgrades and revisions to portions of the wastewater system including pipe rehabilitation, pump station improvements, and upgrades to the Moccasin Bend Environmental Campus.

Proposed Law Would Ban Blockage of Large Utility Projects by Municipalities
Last summer, Memphis did something rare: it cancelled a major oil pipeline project from a multi-billion-dollar corporation, according to a WPLN News report.

The decision was celebrated by some Memphis residents and denounced by the fossil fuel company behind the project. Now, Tennessee lawmakers have introduced legislation that would preempt local governments from blocking future projects.

Infrastructure Improvements Needed to Avoid Weather-Related Outages

Date: February 16, 2022

After a major ice storm knocked out power for more than 100,000 Memphis residents earlier this month, potential proactive solutions are being considered by various groups, according to an article in the Tennessee Lookout.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water primarily blamed downed tree branches for the outages and said it needs more resources to remove limbs throughout the city. An aging infrastructure is also blamed. MLGW's president said the utility has engaged with other city utilities on preparedness tactics to inform its infrastructure improvement plan. In a 2019 master plan, the Shelby County Office of Resilience recommended implementing a smart grid to mitigate power outages. However, cybersecurity risks and higher costs are stumbling blocks to such a solution.

$5.6 Billion Ford Plant Will Bring Construction Jobs, Development to West TN

Date: February 16, 2022

Engineering businesses could stand to benefit from Ford's Blue Oval City, the construction of which is expected to bring 3,000 workers on site each day by year's end, according to HTL Advantage President Mark Herbison, as quoted by That number will likely increase to 8,000 workers a day in 2023, he said. HTL Advantage is an economic development coalition of three West Tennessee counties—Haywood, Tipton, and Lauderdale.

About 3,500 permanent jobs are expected to be created by the $5.6 billion Ford plant. Local and state officials believe that it could transform Western Tennessee. Other professions that could benefit from the project include architects, homebuilders, and trucking companies. Production at the facility is slated to begin in 2025.

NSPE Career Center

Date: February 16, 2022

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Mechanical Design Engineer

Minority Educational Institution Student Partnership Program
Oak Ridge, TN

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Tennessee

Date: January 19, 2022

Under President Biden's infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Tennessee will receive $302.1 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.

Tennessee Wants to Incentivize Colleges to Graduate more STEM Students

Date: January 19, 2022

To meet demand for STEM and healthcare workers over the next decade, Tennessee may soon incentivize its community colleges and universities to recruit and graduate students in those fields, according to a Knoxville News Sentinel report.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is proposing a change to its funding formula that would give more money to colleges for students majoring in high-need academic fields. About a quarter of all associate degrees, a third of all bachelor degrees and over half of community college certificates would qualify for this premium, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The extra money will help community colleges and universities afford creating and supporting high-cost degrees like engineering and other STEM programs.