For Immediate Release:
October 13, 2005
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TDOT Announces Decision on James White Parkway Extension

Nashville, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced today that the state has agreed to use recommendations submitted by the James White Parkway – Chapman Highway Corridor Study Task Force as a guideline to develop a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the James White Parkway Extension. The EIS will address potential impacts resulting from the extension of the James White Parkway from Moody Avenue to Governor John Sevier Highway in South Knox County.

"Since becoming Governor, I have encouraged close coordination between the State of Tennessee and our cities and counties wherever possible. The decision by Commissioner Nicely to accept the recommendations from Knoxville's James White Parkway Task Force is an outstanding example of this coordination,” said Bredesen. “This solution represents the positive results that can occur when citizens and government at both the local and state levels work together."

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely made the announcement today for the Parkway that is also known as South Knoxville Boulevard.

“I am pleased to announce that the Tennessee Department of Transportation will proceed with the development of a full environmental impact statement for the James White Parkway extension,” Nicely said. “As we move forward with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for this project, we will continue to work with the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization (TPO) to determine the final route and roadway cross-section for this extension.”

The project will go forward as a partnership between the TDOT, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the TPO. It is intended to address transportation needs from Knoxville to Sevier and Blount counties. TDOT said it also sees opportunities for this major transportation investment to reinforce local plans to revitalize the South Knoxville waterfront and the Chapman Highway corridor.

“Significant conclusions were produced by those who volunteered on the James White Parkway – Chapman Highway Corridor Study Task Force, and I am pleased that TDOT will use their recommendations as it proceeds with the final design for the project," Mayor Bill Haslam said.

“I am pleased Commissioner Nicely has agreed to move forward with the Environmental Impact Statement for the James White Parkway extension project”, said Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. “It will vastly improve our transportation system, enhance our economic sustainability efforts and provide citizens greater access between Knox and Sevier Counties.”

The project was one of 15 controversial projects studied in 2003 by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research. The projects were targeted based largely on comments Governor Phil Bredesen received during the 2002 campaign.

After the UT study results came in, TDOT announced in November of 2003 that the project would be returned to the City of Knoxville and Knoxville TPO for further review of its purpose, route location, and design features. A 30-member James White Parkway – Chapman Highway Task Force contributed a great deal of personal time and effort to develop recommendations for the corridor.

"I am glad for the spirit of cooperation shown by TDOT and the local folks who will be directly affected,” said Senator Tim Burchett.

"The task force recommendations represent a fair balance between the neighborhoods, the environment, and a healthy commercial area," added Representative Joe Armstrong. “The citizens on the team that worked on this effort are to be commended.”

"It's refreshing and exciting to know that our state government will listen to the people and compromise on this extremely important and sensitive road project for the Knoxville area,” said Senator Jamie Woodson.

Several alternatives for the James White Parkway extension were reviewed by the Task Force. The recommendations for the extension include:

  • Design and build James White Parkway (JWP) as a full access control parkway to Governor John Sevier Highway.
  • Remove the proposed Red Bud Road interchange.
  • Use environmentally sensitive design and conduct a new EIS from East Moody Avenue to Governor John Sevier Highway.
  • Use context sensitive design and minimize neighborhood disruption.
  • Reconsider the necessity of the Island Home interchange.
  • Improve the safety and operation of Chapman highway to encourage multimodal transportation and maintain healthy commercial areas.

The NEPA process will allow for further public comment and input on this project.

It was also announced that TDOT has agreed to partner with the TPO to conduct Transportation Planning Studies along Chapman Highway to address safety and operational issues, as recommended by the Task Force.