Parkway extension awaits fate
November 9, 2003

You can bet members of both Citizens Against Pellissippi Parkway Extension and the Blount County business community will have their eyes on a press conference Monday.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold a briefing at noon at Region One headquarters in East Knox County to make an announcement about the future of several road projects. The Pellissippi Parkway extension is one of them.

It's nothing unusual for citizens to oppose a highway through their property. This one has been a little different, however.

The opposition - CAPPE - has worked systematically rather than making veiled threats and having little idea of what it can really do.

Presently, the controversy is tied up in U.S. District Court in Nashville.

A CAPPE member told me last week the case is still awaiting a hearing date, so things aren't exactly zooming along.

Whether you are for the extension or against it, you have to admit the opposition got its ducks in a row. They have spoken at every event open to them, and they have studied every angle - environment, farming, population density, etc.

As a matter of fact, in the beginning, it was mostly CAPPE that did the talking. Later, those who supported the project began to say their piece.

I would not want to bet on what TDOT will decide. The parkway was planned to connect Oak Ridge with East Lamar Alexander Parkway (U.S. 321) to take some of the load off Alcoa Highway for motorists headed to the Townsend area.

The section left to complete runs from U.S. 411 to U.S. 321. Another stretch still under construction from Cusick Road to Old Knoxville Highway is not part of the controversy.

This column is not meant to imply support for or opposition to the project, but it does show citizens can fight City Hall. Of course, they may not win, but it would give officials reasons to pause and think when future projects are considered.

Fighting City Hall is not easy, nor is it cheap. City Hall has your tax money to pay its bills, and you have to use your own money to fight. So even if a judge orders the state to pay all costs, you still lose.

As Blount County grows more crowded and road improvements become more necessary, it's likely we'll see more fights like this.


John Stiles, Blount County editor, may be reached at 865-981-9101 or

Copyright 2003, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.