The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently offered an online “meeting” to satisfy the legal requirement for public input on the Pellissippi Parkway Extension. Citizens with internet access, technological know-how and patience could view their latest design for the PPE, which includes some significant changes.
The proposed new highway features a concrete median barrier, an interchange with traffic lights on Sevierville Road, and a three-way intersection with stoplights at U.S. Highway 321. There will be a “greenway” beside the new highway between Wildwood and Sevierville (U.S. Highway 41) roads. One wonders where walkers and cyclists safely can go when they exit this path. One must also wonder how far traffic will back up on both Lamar Alexander Parkway and the new extension behind those stoplights at the terminus.
And one should be appalled at what is likely to happen on U.S. Highway 411 if the PPE is built with an interchange there as designed. Narrow, shoulderless Sevierville Road already carries more traffic than it can safely handle, with no plans or funds to improve it for many years. The proposed new highway will increase congestion and decrease safety on 411.
There are many strong reasons not to build the Pellissippi Parkway Extension. TDOT’s own data shows it will not meet the project objectives (improving safety and mobility on our existing road system). It is not needed, as we already have four-lane access between Maryville and Walland. There is no reliable estimate of cost, but it will be in the millions. We need to use our tax dollars for safe, necessary and durable infrastructure. We need to fix the roads we have now — many are unsafe, or crying for maintenance — instead of laying down new pavement we may come to regret.
TDOT’s virtual “meeting” has closed for comments, but the agency is accepting public comments by mail until May 20. You can still tell them what you think. Check out https://saveitdontpaveit.org/ or call 865-340-9183 to learn how to share your opinion.