US 64 Corridor KPolk County
Frequently Asked Questions
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TDOT is currently working with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) on a targeted approach for US 64 (Corridor K) in Polk County. Both financial and environmental challenges at the federal, state, and local levels have delayed the development of the corridor. The targeted approach, which includes a series of projects, would allow TDOT to move forward with much-needed improvements throughout the 20-mile Ocoee River Gorge section of Corridor K.
TDOT is looking at a targeted approach for spot improvements, which would be completed through a series of projects from west of the Ocoee River to State Route 68 near Ducktown along Corridor K. Proposed design improvements include roadway widening, guardrail installation, and curve correction, as well as intersection and recreational access improvements. Proposed rockfall mitigation includes rock excavation and catch fence installation. Additionally, a bridge-and-tunnel option is being considered on the south end of the project area.
Public input has been critical to the development of potential improvements for Corridor K. The currently proposed targeted approach was developed using previous feedback, existing roadway conditions, and crash data, as well as extensive coordination with federal, state, and local officials.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, initial outreach efforts for Corridor K were virtual and included the Rural Planning Organization (RPO), state and local elected officials, regulatory agencies (such as USFS, TVA, TDEC, etc.), and economic stakeholders.
Once the targeted approach is approved by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and more defined plans are developed, public meetings will be scheduled to discuss the proposed designs for specific spot improvement projects in accordance with TDOT's Public Involvement Plan.
As a standard practice, appropriate local, state, and federal agencies are consulted during project development. TDOT will coordinate with the Rural Planning Organization and local officials, as well as review local, state, and federal active planning documents, regarding the potential inclusion of additional design features beyond what is identified in the targeted approach. TDOT will also hold public meetings, which will provide opportunities for feedback on proposed design plans, in accordance with TDOT's Public Involvement Plan and relevant statutes and regulations.
Transportation project receiving federal funding or requiring federal approval must go through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, which includes gathering information, analyzing, and documenting potential environmental effects of a proposed project.
Feasibility studies and environmental reviews will be conducted for all proposed improvements to Corridor K, including the proposed bridges and tunnels. Environmental studies will be coordinated with state and federal agencies and conducted during the NEPA document development process.
TDOT has not yet defined the scopes/limits of any projects along Corridor K. TDOT has only identified potential locations for improvement. Once specific projects are identified and defined, TDOT will determine the appropriate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) class of action for each.
A class of action (i.e. Categorical Exclusion, Environmental Assessment, or Environmental Impact Statement) is the level of environmental review required to satisfy the NEPA process. It is determined by the proposed project’s potential to significantly impact the human or natural environment, and it is determined on a project-by-project basis.
Regardless of the class of action, the NEPA review will incorporate a multidisciplinary approach to review the potential environmental impacts.
As a standard practice, the U.S. Forest Service is consulted during project development for any projects involving USFS lands. TDOT will coordinate with USFS regarding its expectations for aesthetics within the National Forest. Revegetation of disturbed areas will also be coordinated with other relevant state and federal agencies.
TDOT understands that the natural environment of the Ocoee River Gorge is central to the recreation, economics, and inherent beauty of the area, and TDOT will be looking for innovative ways to preserve the unique character of the gorge.
Portions of Corridor K are designated as a National Forest Scenic Byway, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service. TDOT will work with USFS to coordinate projects with the currently approved Corridor Management Plan for the Scenic Byway.
The purpose of the project is to create a safe and reliable route. TDOT will work with the rafting community and the Tennessee Valley Authority to limit road closures during dam release dates.
Additionally, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process will include a review of potential impacts to recreational resources that are publicly owned and publicly accessible, pursuant to Section 4(f) of the USDOT Act.
The extent to which (if any) truck traffic may be restricted on a state roadway is limited by federal statute and regulation. US 64 serves as a critical east-west connector in this region and is currently one of the only east-west connectors in this portion of Polk County linking traffic with the interstate system. The targeted approach for Corridor K would provide safer conditions for all travelers by widening shoulders, installing guardrail, and improving sharp curves and sight distance.