Board votes to kill James White Parkway Extension project

Board votes to kill James White Parkway Extension project

Posted:
A packed crowd attended the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization's meeting to speak about the James White Parkway Extension project. A packed crowd attended the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization's meeting to speak about the James White Parkway Extension project.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A vote by the executive board of the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization Wednesday to place the James White Parkway Extension project back on the area's improvement plan failed, meaning the project is dead.

"South Knoxville has been in limbo for a while waiting on this decision, so we're thrilled it's been finally made," Legacy Parks Foundation Director Carol Evans said.

A motion to put the extension back on the Transportation Improvement Program failed at the planning organization's meeting Wednesday by a vote of three to 10. Only Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knox County Commission Chair Brad Anders and Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters voted in favor.

"I was particularly interested in moving the process forward with the public, and I'm disappointed that did not happen," Waters said. "Having said that, I intend to move forward now and work with the city of Knoxville and Knox County and Blount County to see if we can make improvements to Chapman Highway when it comes to safety and traffic flow."

Another motion to keep the Draft 2014-2017 TIP as it currently stands then passed.

As many as 30 people spoke at the meeting. Most were in opposition to the project, but some South Knoxville residents like Sylvia Woods were disappointed in the board's vote.

"We got cut off at our knees," Woods said. "I think the [James White Parkway Extension project] is the safest way for people to travel in South Knoxville. Chapman Highway has been talked about over and over again. 'Oh we're going to make it safe,' but nobody ever gives any concrete way of saying this is what could be done to make it safe."

The TPO voted in August to remove the project from its four-year Transportation Improvement Program. Removing the project effectively killed the Tennessee Department of Transportation's efforts to extend the highway from Knoxville into Sevier County.

The parkway extension had been in the planning stages for many years, but TPO members said the region was not in favor of the project.

Several proposed routes for the highway would have cut through the newly expanded Knoxville Urban Wilderness area.

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