BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Concerns over congestion, safety, time, design and more were brought up Tuesday night at the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s public meeting about the proposed Pellissippi Parkway Extension.
The meeting was requested by the Blount County Commission after the community raised its concerns to the governing body. The idea for the project has been in the works for years,
“The Tennessee Urgent Highway Needs plan enacted by the General Assembly in 1986 included the extension of the Pellissippi Parkway,” a presentation by TDOT explained.
The proposed extension would go from State Route 33 to State Route 73 through Blount County.
“The inside shoulders would be 14 feet wide, while the outside shoulders would be 12 feet wide,” a TDOT video presentation stated.
This is the first time the public has been able to comment on the proposed design elements in person and ask questions to TDOT officials.
Nina Gregg is a Blount County resident and has been against the project from the start.
“We had a lot of questions about the design, about the rationale about the design, about alternatives, about the impact, and I felt like a lot of those concerns got expressed,” she said. “I’m seriously disappointed about the answers we got from TDOT personnel.
“They keep on defaulting to this is the process we went through and this is how we’re going to move forward and not really engaging in people’s questions.”
Some of the questions people felt weren’t answered were about the timeline of the project and why the money can’t be used elsewhere on roads they feel need to be redone.
“Part of our budget every year is to address congestion and safety needs within communities,” Dexter Justis, the project development director for TDOT’s Region One, said, “This being a project that’s been identified in the past and supported through local officials from its inception to today to address safety and congestion and mobility for the general public here in Blount County.”
Justis and other TDOT officials say local lawmakers are pushing for the project, but those who attended the meeting are wanting to know where those officials are.
“One of the themes tonight seems to be the people who are making decisions about this are not here in this room, and we’re not in conversation with them. And it feels like there is a separation between the people who will be impacted and the people who have the power to make the decisions,” Gregg said.
After the public meeting, those who weren’t able to speak had the opportunity to speak with TDOT officials one on one. They could also write down and send in their questions or comments with the hope of getting them answered at a later time.
Comments can still be submitted until Oct. 12. You can find that link here.
The next phase of this project is to finalize design plans.