Project opponents seek judicial help
By JOHN STILES, stiles@knews.com
November 11, 2003

Nina Gregg and other Blount Countians opposed to the Pellissippi Parkway extension are looking to the courts to halt the project.

"We are very disappointed," Gregg said Monday after state Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely announced the state would proceed with the project.


The extension in question is now tied up in U.S. District Court.

Gregg said Citizens Against Pellissippi Parkway Extension (CAPPE) filed a lawsuit last summer.

"The Federal Highway Administration attempted to withdraw the final documents that were the basis of their approval of the project; the federal court denied their request," Gregg said.

"The highway administration then appealed that ruling to the 6th Circuit Court. We're waiting for the 6th Circuit Court to set a date for presentation of arguments on the question of whether the Federal Highway Administration can withdraw the FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact), which they approved."

Nicely said a University of Tennessee review team, which was part of the process, recommended that when the court injunction is resolved, TDOT move forward with obtaining additional input from impacted landowners and other interested groups."

CAPPE members have argued that several types of environmental problems will result if the highway is completed. They argue heavy traffic thrown into a rural area will cause serious problems,

They have argued that farmers in the area should be treated like any other businesses.

Gregg said CAPPE agrees with the UT Center for Transportation Research on some of its findings.

One of these findings is that the state needs to "start with the assumption that an Environmental Impact Statement is needed."

Proponents of the highway argue it is needed to relieve heavy traffic on Alcoa Highway, providing a shortcut for tourist traffic headed to Townsend.

At Maryville High School earlier, the UT review team held a public meeting on the controversy.

Gregg said she does not expect the federal court to take up the issue this year.

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John Stiles, Blount County editor, may be reached at 865-981-9101 or stiles@knews.com.

Copyright 2003, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.

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