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TN to Study Environmental Impact of Parkway Extension

Wed October 26, 2005 - Southeast Edition
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Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced Oct. 13 that the state has agreed to use recommendations submitted by the James White Parkway-Chapman Highway Corridor Study Task Force as a guideline to develop a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for the James White Parkway Extension.

The EIS will address potential impacts resulting from the extension of the James White Parkway from Moody Avenue to Governor John Sevier Highway in South Knox County.

“Since becoming governor, I have encouraged close coordination between the state of Tennessee and our cities and counties wherever possible. The decision by [TDOT] Commissioner [Gerald] Nicely to accept the recommendations from Knoxville’s James White Parkway Task Force is an outstanding example of this coordination,” said Bredesen. “This solution represents the positive results that can occur when citizens and government at both the local and state levels work together.”

Nicely said the project will remain a collaborative effort.

“As we move forward with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for this project, we will continue to work with the City of Knoxville, Knox County and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization (TPO) to determine the final route and roadway cross-section for this extension.”

The project is intended to address transportation needs from Knoxville to Sevier and Blount counties. TDOT officials said it also sees opportunities for this major transportation investment to reinforce local plans to revitalize the South Knoxville waterfront and the Chapman Highway corridor.

“Significant conclusions were produced by those who volunteered on the James White Parkway-Chapman Highway Corridor Study Task Force, and I am pleased that TDOT will use their recommendations as it proceeds with the final design for the project,” Mayor Bill Haslam said.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale expects the project will improve the county’s transportation system, enhance its economic sustainability efforts and provide greater access between Knox and Sevier counties.

The project was one of 15 controversial projects studied in 2003 by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research. The projects were targeted based largely on comments Bredesen received during the 2002 campaign.

After the UT study results came in, TDOT announced in November 2003 that the project would be returned to the City of Knoxville and Knoxville TPO for further review of its purpose, route location, and design features. A 30-member James White Parkway-Chapman Highway Task Force contributed a great deal of personal time and effort to develop recommendations for the corridor.

Several alternatives for the James White Parkway extension were reviewed by the Task Force. The recommendations for the extension include:

• Design and build James White Parkway (JWP) as a full access control parkway to Governor John Sevier Highway

• Remove the proposed Red Bud Road interchange

• Use environmentally sensitive design and conduct a new EIS from East Moody Avenue to Governor John Sevier Highway

• Use context sensitive design and minimize neighborhood disruption

• Reconsider the necessity of the Island Home interchange

• Improve the safety and operation of Chapman highway to encourage multimodal transportation and maintain healthy commercial areas.

The NEPA process will allow for further public comment and input on this project.

It also was announced that TDOT has agreed to partner with the TPO to conduct Transportation Planning Studies along Chapman Highway to address safety and operational issues, as recommended by the Task Force.

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