Press Release | December 23, 2014

Groups Praise TDOT Decision to Reexamine Proposed Widening of U.S. Highway 127/State Route 28

Crossville, TN – The Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association, Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), and National Trust for Historic Preservation applaud the decision by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to withdraw its permit requests to the Tennessee Valley Authority related to the proposed widening of U.S. Highway 127/State Route 28 from the intersection of US 127 and State Route 68 to Cleveland Street in Crossville. 

TDOT has sought to expand U.S. Highway 127 south of Crossville from two to five lanes and to redesign the intersection of 127 and State Route 68. The intersection lies at the heart of the Cumberland Homesteads, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The project also would impact several streams—including Byrds Creek and Threemile Creek, which are two Exceptional Tennessee Waters. The groups releasing statements today have opposed the project for over a decade, and each group filed comments on TVA’s draft Environmental Assessment of the proposal just last week.

“TDOT’s decision is very welcome news for the Cumberland Homesteads,” said Vicki Vaden, chair of the Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association’s US 127S Highway Committee. “We are breathing a sigh of relief. Saving the triangle intersection with its 100-year-old oaks at the heart of the community has been a high priority for the community since we first learned of TDOT’s plan sixteen years ago. We hope that TDOT will find a way to save the triangle and scale down the project as a whole if they decide to go back to the drawing board.”

“The Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club and SOCM are very pleased that TDOT is reconsidering its design of the 127 project,” said Mary Mastin, a lawyer who has filed comments on behalf of both groups. “The present five lane design destroys hundreds of feet of streams, some of them Exceptional Tennessee Waters going through and adjoining the Cumberland Mountain State Park. We look forward to TDOT's revised scope and redesign.”

“The decision to reexamine this project has statewide significance, and it is consistent with TDOT’s recent efforts to assess more precisely the need for transportation improvements and to pursue more targeted solutions,” said Trip Pollard, SELC Senior Attorney and Director of the Land and Community Program.  “Building this proposed project would have wasted taxpayer funds and damaged valuable natural and historic resources for little benefit. The projected traffic volumes used to justify the project simply haven’t come to pass, and if TDOT does pursue improvements to this corridor we urge them to select far less destructive alternatives.”

“TDOT’s 20-year old proposal is needlessly damaging to the historic district and is simply not consistent with current transportation planning principles,” said Elizabeth Merritt, Deputy General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We certainly hope that TDOT will scrap this proposal for good, and spare the Cumberland Homesteads Historic District from serious damage. This nationally-significant resource provides a meaningful connection to the past that should be protected for future generations.”

 

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About Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association: CHTA is a non-profit organization that works to preserve and promote the Cumberland Homesteads Historic District. CHTA operates two public museums–the Homesteads Tower Museum and the Homesteads House Museum. CHTA works to preserve the history and ideals of the original Homesteaders by relating their story to the public and to provide leadership and guidance in understanding and determining the future of the historic community. www.cumberlandhomesteads.org

About Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment: SOCM is a member-run organization that encourages civic involvement and collective action so that the people of Tennessee have a greater voice in determining their future. The mission of SOCM is to empower Tennesseeans to protect, defend, and improve the quality of life in their communities across the state. www.socm.org

About Sierra Club: Sierra Club is a national nonprofit organization of approximately 700,000 members dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth; to practicing and promoting the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educating and enlisting humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to using all lawful means to carry out these objectives. The Sierra Club has approximately 6000 members in Tennessee. www.tennessee.sierraclub.org

About Southern Environmental Law Center: SELC is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of about 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

About National Trust for Historic Preservation: The National Trust for Historic Preservation , a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.PreservationNation.org  

Press Contacts

Trip Pollard

Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Land and Community Program

Phone: 804-343-1090