The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Street Construction

Reference Number: MTAS-607
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: May 25, 2016
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Cooperative Planning
Cities may enter into agreements with the state Department of Transportation and State Planning Office to develop a continuing and comprehensive transportation plan to ensure that projects reflect the needs and desires of local government. T.C.A. §§ 54-18-101, et seq.

Ramps for the Handicapped - State and Federal Requirements
"Every incorporated city and town" must install ramps "at crosswalks in both business and residential areas when making new installations of sidewalks, curbs, or gutters or improving or replacing existing sidewalks, curbs, or gutters" to facilitate the movement of people in wheelchairs and others with mobility impairments. The state Department of Transportation must furnish design standards for such ramps, and construction must be in accordance with those standards. T.C.A. § 7-31-114.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, local governments must provide curb ramps or other sloped areas at the intersections of newly constructed or altered streets, roads, or highways to make them accessible for the handicapped. 28 C.F.R. 35.151.

Public Bridges
A city and a county may agree to construct and share the costs of a free or toll bridge over any stream in or next to a municipality. Bonds may be sold to finance such a project. T.C.A. §§ 54-11-222–224.

Bridge Grants
The 1990 Bridge Grant Program Act created a bridge replacement and rehabilitation program for local governments. The Tennessee Department of Transportation administers the program and may approve grants for up to 70 percent of project cost. Participating cities must comply with National Bridge Inspection Standards. T.C.A. §§ 54-4-501–508.

Municipalities are authorized to condemn land for streets and street-related purposes under various statutes:

  • Streets–T.C.A. § 7-35-107, T.C.A. § 29-16-101, T.C.A. § 29-17-801;
  • Public works projects–T.C.A. § 9-21-107;
  • Controlled-access highways–T.C.A. § 54-16-104; and
  • Drainage ditches–T.C.A. § 7-35-101, T.C.A. § 29-16-201.

Generally, the procedures outlined in T.C.A. § 29-16-101 and T.C.A. § 29-17-801 govern the condemnation of property. T.C.A. §§ 29-17-101, et seq., place restrictions on the use of eminent domain when there will be direct or indirect benefits to private individuals or entities. One of several exceptions from these restrictions, however, allows private benefits when "any interest in land necessary for a road, highway, bridge, or other structure, facility, or project used for public transportation" is taken. (See Eminent Domain for more information.) T.C.A. § 66-27-207 places restrictions on the use of eminent domain to take condominium units.

Construction Guarantee
In a contract for paving a public way, cities may require that the contractor guarantee "to maintain and repair the same for such time as the governing body or board thereof shall deem proper." T.C.A. § 7-31-113.

Plans, Specifications, and Estimates
Plans, specifications, and estimates for any public works project exceeding $25,000 must be prepared by a registered architect or engineer. T.C.A. § 62-2-107.