Pellissippi Parkway Extension decision to be announced
2003-11-09
by Darren Dunlap
of The Daily Times Staff

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will announce at noon Monday its decision on three controversial road projects, including the Pellissippi Parkway Extension.

The parkway is one of 15 projects reviewed by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation this year. The university released its report Aug. 15.

While the report gave TDOT satisfactory ratings for much of its planning of the Pellissippi Parkway Extension, it also pointed out other areas in which TDOT needs improvement in a September report, ``Lessons Learned.''

The September report came at the request of TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.

Consideration of environmental impact is one area the agency could improve, according to the report. Members of the Citizens Against the Pellissippi Parkway Extension hope Nicely remembers that when the project announcement is made Monday at TDOT's Knoxville headquarters.

``We will be listening to hear whether Commissioner Nicely's announcement on the Pellissippi Parkway Extension confirms his earlier commitment that TDOT will observe all NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements,'' said Nina Gregg, CAPPE communications chair.

``We are also interested to hear how he responds to the recommendation from the UT Center for Transportation Research that TDOT `start with the assumption that an EIS is needed on a project.'

``And we are still waiting to see whatever data and analysis the Commissioner is using to determine the need and justification for this proposed highway,'' Gregg said.

CAPPE challenged the project last year, calling for more stringent environmental impact analysis of the proposed road. A federal court issued an injunction halting the project in June 2002.

The proposed route, a 4.5-mile, four-lane highway, runs from State Highway 33 (Old Knoxville Highway) to U.S. Highway 321 (East Lamar Alexander Parkway).

Representatives from the Blount County Chamber of Commerce also plan to attend the announcement.

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All materials Copyright 2003 Horvitz Newspapers.