Transportation agencies look at 2-lane alternatives
In a significant development in SELC's efforts to stop this massive, unneeded highway through some of the most pristine areas of the Southern Appalachians, the Departments of Transportation in North Carolina and Tennessee are now studying a number of scaled-back alternatives for the remaining sections of the Corridor K project connecting Chattanooga and Asheville.
Along with their original proposals to build new four-lane sections through undeveloped land, both TDOT and NCDOT are now including two-lane routes that entail upgrading existing highways as they continue their environmental studies. Upgrading and improving existing two-lane highways would protect numerous natural areas like the Ocoee River and gorge in Tennessee, and the pristine Stecoah and Cheoah Bald areas in North Carolina.
They would also save state and federal taxpayers substantial money. For example, one 20-mile section of a new, four-lane highway in Tennessee is projected to cost $1.3 billion, whereas improvements to Highway 64 could be completed for as little as $304 million.
In the fall of 2009, SELC submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers (which must issue permits for the projects) outlining our strong objections to the massive Corridor K plans. Following tremendous public opposition to the states' original ideas for four-lanes through the area, the Corps told NCDOT in October that it must consider the alternative of upgrading existing two-lane roads.
See SELC's press release here.