Feds: We don’t have the cash to repair Lamar Avenue

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On Tuesday Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Memphis to talk about improvements to a road we all know needs it: Lamar Avenue.

The city said it wants to help ease traffic and improve safety, but it needs federal dollars to make it happen.

Unfortunately, the city was told it could take a while before that happened.

Jim Maddox with the Tri-State Truck Center told Secretary Foxx the freight industry was willing to pay more in fuel taxes to fix the roads.

"We are way behind," Maddox explained. "Not only do we have to work on what we've got, we have to improve on what we've got."

But Secretary Foxx didn't have the answer he was looking for.

"I'd love to be here to tell you we are taking things off the to-do list, but the honest to goodness truth is we are going in the opposite direction," Foxx explained.

Foxx said he and President Obama were trying to pass a six-year, $500 billion plan, that would help with projects like Lamar.

Tennessee, he said, would get $1 billion of that money.

Phil Trenary with the Memphis Chamber told the Secretary these upgrades were the number one priority of the business community.

That's because it's what is keeping companies from coming here, and bringing jobs.

"It's also an issue of damaging product, it's so bad. It's something we have to address and address now," Trenary added.

This plan known as GROW America will need congressional approval, and they only have 8-days left in Washington until the summer break.

The money for the plan would come from fuel taxes and a new tax, on overseas profit.

That likely would be a sticking point on Capitol Hill.

"We have Lamar Avenues all across the country," Foxx explained. "You've got a plan to deal with it; we just don't have the money in place to pay for it."

But since Republicans and Democrats all have to drive the same roads, Foxx said he was hopeful the next time he's in Memphis he'll have better news.

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