TDOT to Present New James White Parkway Extension Alternative to Public; No Decision Will be Made Until Public Views and Comments on New Proposal
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will not make a decision regarding the James White Parkway Extension until new information is presented to the public and comments are received on a modified alternative for the route.
Based on conversations with local officials and comments received from the James White Parkway Extension public hearing held on December 6, 2012, TDOT has developed a “Modified Green Alternative” that further minimizes impacts to the Urban Wilderness, reduces residential and business relocations, and reduces the total amount of Right of Way needed to build the project.
“The Modified Green Alternative has a boulevard design, which reduces the footprint of the project and the impacts to the Urban Wilderness, which was one of the primary concerns we heard during the public comment period,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This proposal not only minimizes the impacts to trails, but also provides an opportunity to connect some of Knoxville’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities while also still fulfilling the initial purpose and need of the project.”
In 2002, the Knoxville City Council authorized the creation of the James White Parkway Extension Task Force comprised of citizens, business owners, and elected officials. The purpose of the task force, which was completely independent of TDOT, was to evaluate various aspects of the project. In the end, the task force envisioned Chapman Highway as a thriving business district, and the James White Parkway Extension as simply a means to move traffic. The task force also determined that reducing the predicted high volume of traffic on Chapman Highway was the only way to significantly reduce crash rates in the future.
TDOT accepted the task force’s recommendations and moved forward with the environmental phase of the project, which led to the development of several build alternatives for the James White Parkway Extension project. Those alternatives were presented to the public in December 2012. Since that time, TDOT analyzed public comments and developed the “Modified Green Alternative” to further lessen impacts.
“As a former mayor, I strongly believe that TDOT should work with local officials and communities to address their transportation needs,” added Schroer. “However, I feel this project has regional significance beyond Knox County, and I want to hear from everyone who would potentially be served by this route.”
Approximately 70% percent of the traffic that is currently traveling northbound on Chapman Highway crossing the Henley Bridge is seeking interstate access. Currently, Chapman Highway is the primary north-south multi-lane corridor available for motorists traveling to and from southern Knox County, the Seymour portion of Sevier County, and northeast Blount County.
TDOT is planning to hold two community meetings in early October to share the details of the “Modified Green Alternative” and allow the public to submit comments. Specific details of those meetings will be announced soon.
A conceptual rendering of the “Modified Green Alternative” can be viewed at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/sr71/.