Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council shaping trail extension to Townsend
Joel Davis | (joeld@Thedailytimes.com)
Long-term plans to link Maryville’s and Alcoa’s greenway trails with those in Townsend continue to take shape. Workshops were held last week for community members to discuss possible routes.
Ellen Zavisca, chairwoman of the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council, said the purpose was to get feedback on a preliminary design for the trail.
“This time we were able to say here is what we think it will look like as it comes out of Maryville and runs along U.S. Highway 321,” she said. “... As you get into that tight section, the Walland-Townsend area, here are the different options.”
In some places, the trail could fit in alongside the roadway and would have a barrier in place to protect pedestrians. In others, the trail might need to be built up and would have retaining walls.
In the more extreme areas, the trail might need to be built out from the hillside itself. “We will be refining that into a final design,” Zavisca said. “We heard some really good feedback and positive things.”
This is the second time this year that Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council and their Blount County partners have sought public input on the draft plans to link the Maryville and Townsend greenway trails.
The two alternatives that are being considered for the route are along the U.S. Highway 321 corridor and also the Pellissippi Parkway extension, if it ever gets built.
“It’s all very preliminary, but it basically shows that most of the trail will go along U.S. Highway 321,” said Angie M. Luckie, head of Maryville’s Engineering and Public Works Department.
Once a formal construction plan is finally developed, it will be up to the individual jurisdictions — Maryville, Alcoa, Blount — to proceed. The time frame is long term, and it could be decades before the greenway links are built.
“We have no idea when that kind of funding would be available,” Luckie said.
According to the Greenway Master Plan, there are some challenges, although surmountable, inherent in placing greenways along roadways: “Although vehicular corridors are not the first choice for pedestrian or bicycle use, those with adequate right-of-way width can provide opportunities for pedestrian and bike circulation when other physical constraints prohibit consideration of other, possibly more desirable locations from a user experience perspective.
“Though technically not a greenway, if adequate road shoulder width is present, a pedestrian path can be located inside the right of way of these parkways in a safe and aesthetic manner that can provide an important link in the greenway system.” In 2009, Barge Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon Inc. (BWSC) created a draft Greenway Master Plan for a trail system running from Knoxville to Townsend. Community and landowner opposition led to one alternative route, a proposed stretch along the Little River to Heritage High School, to be struck from the plan.The current plan being developed is a partnership of the Knoxville Regional TPO, the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council, local governments, Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation, the Blount Partnership and Tennessee Department of Transportation.