We have obtained an embargoed copy of a blockbuster story scheduled to appear in Sunday's Tennessean reporting that the Governor's office and high level TDOT officials have forged an agreement with the Maxmech Group, an Indian manufacturer of highway construction equipment, to take over all TDOT operations starting next year.
The company, which sells roadbuilding equipment worldwide, was looking to expand into project management and services. According to the founder and CEO, "We in the Maxmech Group are committed to opening new fields of business using pioneering technology and contributing to an improved natural environment and quality of life. This is a natural fit for us."
Internal memos obtained by the Tennessean show that Gov. Haslam proposed the idea as a way to leverage TDOT's $1.7 billion operating budget including $700 million in gas tax revenues, by partnering with private businesses who can "provide professional management to eliminate overhead, streamline operations and maximize the full potential of taxpayer investments in transportation." The move will "get us out of the roadbuilding business" and turn it over to an "internationally recognized company with a proven track record."
TDOT considered a similar plan in 2008 but rejected the idea. Speculation is that the proposal will be well received in the new Republican controlled legislature.
Another component of the deal involves discussions with Abertis, a Barcelona company that specializes in operating toll roads worldwide. The company, which is partly owned by CVC Capital of Luxembourg which also owns Pilot Travel Centers, would be contracted to operate toll collections on designated state highways and interstates. Part of that deal would also involve commercializing interstate rest areas and welcome centers and contracting Pilot Travel Centers to operate them. Gov. Haslam says this will create new sources of state revenues and save taxpayer dollars.
Check Sunday's Tennessean for more details...
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