The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced that it is moving forward with the next phase of development for the proposed Pellissippi Parkway Extension project. That phase involves the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
“We are in agreement with the Federal Highway Administration that the preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement is the best course of action for this proposed project at this time in order to help us reach an appropriate decision,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.
Commissioner Nicely explained that in late August, the U.S. District Court issued an order modifying its previous injunction. That order allowed the FHWA and TDOT to reconsider and reissue the relevant environmental documents under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In November 2003, following a detailed review of the proposed extension of the Pellissippi Parkway, conducted at the request of the department by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research, Commissioner Nicely announced that the department would proceed with the project when allowed to do so by the District Court and the FHWA.
On July 7, 2004, an opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit remanded the injunction back to District Court with instructions to allow the FHWA to review its compliance with NEPA.
“At that time, I announced that the department decided that this project will be handled as a federally funded project and we will not proceed with this project as a state only funded project, as previously considered,” Nicely said.
TDOT will actively cooperate with FHWA and other parties to conduct the environmental analysis needed to move this project forward. Local officials and citizens will be fully involved in this analysis.
Pellissippi Parkway Resurfacing
The Tennessee Department of Transportation also announced in September that the resurfacing project on I-140 / Pellissippi Parkway was completed four months ahead of the scheduled finishing date.
“This project was needed, but Knoxville drivers needed this project to be completed quickly,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “We’re thrilled that we were able to get it done ahead of schedule.”
At that time, Renfro Construction Company still needed to install reflective markers along the shoulder of the roadway.
The project started May 7, and involved resurfacing a total of 10.45 mi. of interstate, using almost 100,000 tons of asphalt. Originally the projected completion date was Dec. 15.
However, shortly after beginning the job, TDOT and the contractor re-evaluated the construction plan in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion caused by the resurfacing. The decision was made to keep two lanes open during the heavy morning and afternoon commuter periods. The new construction schedule was estimated to add an additional month to the project moving the estimated completion date to Jan. 15, 2005.
“We provided an incentive to the contractor to get this work done quickly, and they did it, by working around the clock. They gave it their full attention,” Nicely said.
The resurfacing of this stretch of Pellissippi Parkway will improve the safety of the roadway by removing worn areas in the pavement surface. New roadway markings and lane reflector strips will also be provided for better visibility, particularly at night. New warning, or rumble, strips along the shoulder of the interstate were also installed to alert drivers that they are nearing the edge of the roadway.
This was the first major resurfacing project in the history of Pellissippi Parkway, which opened in 1993. Pellissippi Parkway extends from Alcoa Highway in Blount County to Kingston Pike in West Knoxville.