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US 64 / Corridor K

From west of Ocoee River to SR-68 near Ducktown

 

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Project
What is Corridor K?
When was the project first identified?
Why is the project needed?
What are some of the existing access and mobility issues?
What are some of the economic needs for the project?
 
 
What is the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach to planning?
How will TDOT protect the environment?
How much will the project cost?
Who is paying for the environmental study?
How will the new transportation bill - Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century affect Corridor K?
When will the project be complete?
Does the NC portion of Corridor K affect the US 64/Corridor K project in TN?
How can I find out more?

What is Corridor K?

Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC's) Corridor K is a regional project for improved access, mobility and economic development in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. The route is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System which starts at I-75 near Cleveland, Tennessee and ends near Dillsboro, North Carolina.

The portion of Corridor K that TDOT is currently studying is located within the Ocoee River Gorge area Adobe PDF file. This section follows US 64 64 in southeastern Tennessee and is part of the Ocoee Scenic Byway.

US 64 is the only east-west arterial in the area. The roadway serves through, local, and recreational traffic. The corridor is part of the local transportation network and provides access to residential areas, health care facilities, educational facilities, cultural amenities, recreational opportunities, and employment.

When was the project first identified?

In 1964, the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) reported that economic growth in Appalachia would not be possible until the region’s isolation had been overcome. The ARC report placed top priority on a modern highway system as the key to economic development. The Corridor K project was first introduced as one of 31 regional projects included in the Appalachian Regional Development Act (ARDA) of 1965. TDOT began identifying problem areas along US 64 in Polk County in the 1970s. View the project timeline  Adobe PDF file.
Why is the project needed?

The project will help ensure a safe, reliable and efficient east-west transportation route. Due to topography and natural conditions, this section of Corridor K does not meet appropriate roadway standards. The roadway has numerous transportation issues, including:

  • Insufficient shoulders and guardrails
  • Inadequate sight distance
  • Sharp curves
  • Lack of convenient detour routes in case of rockslides or accidents
  • Traffic peaking issues (e.g., increases during the rafting season)

The ARC has identified an economic need for an improved east-west transportation corridor in the project region. Additionally, the Rural Planning Organization (RPO) has consistently ranked the Ocoee River Gorge section of Corridor K as a top priority.  Regional transportation improvements could promote economic sustainability and support the growing tourism industry.

 

What are some of the existing issues with the roadway?
Obstruction of passage due to crashes, rockslides, and inclement weather coupled with the scarcity of potential detours can cause notable travel time delays within the project study area. Major rockslides can lead to closure of US 64 for weeks and/or months, causing significant increases in travel time and fuel costs. The current roadway design does not accommodate various vehicular mixes and roadway users, including truck traffic and recreational motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

 

What are some of the economic needs for the project?

The US 64/Corridor K project would support the sustained economic growth of the five-county area. The project would improve the economic prospects of Polk County residents and businesses.  In 2009, a section of US 64 in Polk County was closed for approximately four months due to a rockslide in the Ocoee Gorge.  The negative economic impacts of the subsequent temporary roadway closure demonstrated the roadway’s critical role in the local and regional economy. According to the ARC report, “Economic Impact of Rockslides in Tennessee and North Carolina,” negative economic impacts of the rockslides and road closures, including decreased business revenue, employee lay-offs and increased transportation expenses, were measurable for the communities closest to the rockslide sites.

What is the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach to planning?

TDOT understands the importance of preserving the unique resources of the area while developing solutions that address the existing safety and mobility issues. For the Corridor K project, TDOT is using CSS principles during planning and design to develop solutions that fit within the area’s unique community context.

For Corridor K, the CSS approach includes:

  • Early identification of a full range of local and regional information on community, economic and environmental resources.
  • Coordination with resource agencies, the public and other stakeholders to better understand issues, concerns and values of the region.
  • Stakeholder and public input into the development and evaluation of potential project solutions.
  • Tailored studies to evaluate unique aspects of the project environment.


How TDOT reduce the chance for adverse environmental effects from the project?

TDOT and the lead agencies involved with the project are committed to preserving the area’s unique resources for residents, visitors and future generations. During project planning and development, TDOT will be preparing environmental documentation that meets federal and state environmental regulations. During this process, research, data collection and fieldwork activities are conducted to help TDOT document potential environmental impacts resulting from project alternatives.

 

Environmental topics being evaluated include:


  • Economic effects
  • Air quality
  • Ecology and natural resources
  • Energy
  • Environmental justice
  • Floodplains
  • Hazardous materials
  • Historical and archaeological resources
  • Land use
  • Noise
  • Parks and recreation
  • Soils and geology
  • Tribal fisheries and cultural resources
  • Vegetation
  • Visual impacts
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife and endangered species


Sustainability and mitigation measures will be developed for each build alternative to avoid and minimize potential negative environmental effects and promote stewardship of resources.


How much will the project cost?

Preliminary project costs based on the level of project design will be included in the DEIS. For alternatives requiring construction, the cost estimates will include foreseeable right-of-way and construction costs. The cost of mitigation may vary amongst alternatives and any associated cost of mitigation would only be preliminary and subject to change dependent on more detailed assessment of existing conditions and measures needed to reduce the likelihood of adverse impacts. This would occur once a preferred alternative is advanced forward in the environmental review.


Who is paying for the study?

The Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) Program provided funding for the construction of corridor highways in the Appalachian Region (FY 2005-2009) to promote economic development and establish a state-federal framework. TDOT is administering the funds and is conducting the project in coordination with FHWA and ARC.

How will the new transportation bill - Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – affect Corridor K?
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century transportation bill was signed on July 6, 2012 by President Barack Obama. The bill includes the most significant federal commitment to the timely completion of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) since 1998. ADHS corridors would receive 100 percent federal funding and states are no longer required to provide a 20 percent match.


“Federal funding for ADHS corridors and access roads would be increased from the current 80 percent federal share to 100 percent federal share. The 100 percent federal share would apply to funds apportioned to the ADHS in prior years in addition to funds apportioned to the states under other highway programs. The authority for 100 percent federal funding would extend from 2012 through 2021.” (ARC, July 9, 2012).

For more information, view ARC’s July 9, 2012 news release.

When will the project be complete?

The Corridor K project is now in its environmental review phase, which is expected to be completed in Fall 2017. If a build alternative is selected, TDOT will then move forward with obtaining permits from state and federal agencies and acquiring right-of-way, as needed, prior to construction. The timing of construction will depend on the availability of funds. Some funding is available from ARC for construction.

View the Project Timeline.


How can I find out more?

The project's public involvement program includes multiple opportunities for the public to participate by submitting comments, attending public meetings and keeping informed through project materials such as this website and newsletters.

Join the Project Mailing List to receive updates and learn about future public participation opportunities.


View the Project Library to review project-related documents and reports.

For specific questions or comments about the project, contact Wesley Hughen, Project Manager.

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Project Design and Alternatives
 
What alternatives are being studied?

What roadway sections are being considered?
Does existing US 64 meet the Appalachian Highway Development System or National Truck Traffic standards?
How will average travel speed be determined?
What roadway standards must be met to secure Appalachian Regional Commission funding?
Which agency would maintain existing US 64 roadway if a new location alternative is selected as the preferred alternative?

 

What alternatives are being studied?

Six study alternatives are currently being analyzed in more detail in the Draft EIS. These include the No-Build Alternative and Build Alternatives 2, 4, 5, 8A and 9.

Since the last public meetings in spring 2011, the project team has refined the study alternatives and options (view updated alternative descriptions and map) through coordination with the project team, agencies, Citizens Resource Team, and other stakeholders.

Alternative 8 was eliminated from further consideration as it shared common sections with other build alternatives, but was expected to result in greater impacts and an additional alternative (Alternative 9) was developed that builds from elements of other alternatives.

What roadway sections are being considered?
Corridor K is not using a one-size-fits-all approach. A variety of cross-sections are being developed to respond to the varying conditions within the project study area. The roadway would vary in width, travel speed, and amenities depending on site-specific conditions. For example, the section through the Ocoee River Gorge will include a different roadway design than the section through Parksville or near Ducktown. This flexibility helps the project team avoid sensitive resources, minimize potential impacts, and enhance corridor opportunities by using a context-sensitive approach.

The five build alternatives would include improvements to portions of existing US 64, as well as additional sections of roadway on new location. The alternatives are designed primarily as two-lane roadways. A third lane would be used in select locations as turning and passing lanes. US 64 would remain a two-lane roadway with truck climbing lanes from the Ocoee Whitewater Center east to SR-68.

Roadway designs are currently being developed by the project team in coordination with agencies and other stakeholders. Preliminary project design concepts will be shared with the public at public meetings this fall for review and comment. Information will also be made available on the project website.

Does existing US 64 meet the Appalachian Development Highway (ADHS) System or National Truck Traffic standards?
Due to topographic and natural conditions, US 64 in the project study area does not satisfy design standards appropriate for a roadway of the ADHS or the National Truck Network. Roadway deficiencies noted in the TDOT Road Safety Audit Report (2006) for the Corridor K project area include: issues related to horizontal alignment, lack of roadway shoulders, unstable slopes, minimal sight distance around curves, and inadequate space for guardrail placement.  These road safety issues are described in the US 64/Corridor K Transportation Planning Report.


What roadway standards must be met to secure Appalachian Regional Commission funding?
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding may be used for preliminary engineering, right-of-way, and construction of highways meeting the ADHS objective. In order to obtain funding from ARC, a proposed project must be approved by the ARC and must be processed in accordance with State Highway Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration procedures. According to the ARC, those projects identified as being a part of the ADHS shall:

  • achieve continuity and reasonable uniformity throughout the system;
  • have an average travel speed of approximately 50 miles per hour between major termini of the System, commensurate with terrain;
  • provide partial or full control of access where necessary in order to preserve safety and capacity for traffic; and
  • incorporate landscaping and beautification into the design.

View the complete list of ADHS criteria.

 

How will average travel speed for the proposed alternatives be determined?
The project alternatives will be compared with an equivalent design year "No-Action/No-Build" alternative. A travel time survey will be completed and included in the DEIS. Travel time estimates for each alternative will be provided using current and forecasted traffic data.


Which agency would maintain existing US 64 roadway if a new location alternative is selected?

TDOT would maintain the existing US 64 roadway as a state route if a new location alternative was selected.

Corridor-Level Planning
What is a Transportation Planning Report?
What information is covered in the Corridor K TPR?
What corridor options are identified in the TPR?
How did public input help shape the TPR?
 

What is a Transportation Planning Report?

A Transportation Planning Report (TPR) is a document designed to streamline project development by providing detailed project-related information earlier in planning prior to more detailed environmental review.


What information is covered in the Corridor K TPR?


The Corridor K TPR:


  • Describes the project history and previous planning efforts
  • Establishes the preliminary need for the project
  • Identifies ten potential corridor options for further study
  • Describes environmental resources and issues in the area
  • Details existing transportation issues
  • Summarizes public comments received


The Corridor K TPR was completed in May 2010. View the TPR.


What corridor options are identified in the TPR?

The TPR identified and evaluated 10 potential corridor options, which will be further studied during environmental review. These options include:

  • Two options based on improvements to existing US 64, one for the entire length and one for spot improvements throughout the corridor
  • Three options on new location north of the Ocoee River
  • Two options combining new location corridors to the north with improvements to existing US 64
  • Two options on new location to the south
  • A “No Build option, which would involve no improvements to the existing route.  The No Build option provides a baseline for comparing all of the other options.

 

View the TPR to learn more about these options.

 

How did public input help shape the TPR?

The public, agencies, local officials, interest groups and other stakeholders provided valuable input that helped inform the TPR phase and corridor option development. As of May 2010, the project has received close to 3,000 public and agency comments via public meetings, mail and e-mail. View Appendix E of the TPR to learn more about how stakeholder input was integrated into corridor-level planning. 

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Environmental Review Process
What is the environmental review process for the project?
What is NEPA
?
What is an EIS?
How is TDOT using the 2008 Corridor K Economic Development and Transportation Study in the EIS?

What is the environmental review process for the project?

TDOT, ARC and FHWA are leading the NEPA process to develop the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will provide comprehensive information about the project’s purpose and need, proposed alternatives, and potential environmental, social and economic effects.  Information gathered during the corridor-level planning phase and presented in the TPR will help inform the NEPA process.


Key steps:

  • Develop alternatives to study in the DEIS.
    -
    Evaluate the 10 options developed during the TPR phase, as well as other required options (such as mass transit) to determine if they meet the project’s purpose and need, community and stakeholder interests, and many other factors.
    - Some options may be eliminated and others refined to develop detailed study alternatives.
  • Conduct fieldwork and collect/analyze data.
    -
    Gather information related to the final study alternatives.
    - Evaluate design information, costs, potential social and environmental effects, and other information.
  • Prepare a DEIS.
    -
    Discuss alternatives and disclose potential impacts in the DEIS.
    - Distribute the DEIS for review and comment.
  • Select a Preferred Alternative and prepare a FEIS.
    -
    Review the analysis and public comments on the draft EIS prior to selecting a preferred alternative.
    - Present the preferred alternative in the FEIS.
  • Publish a Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register.
    -
    Discuss the preferred alternative and final mitigation measures in the ROD.

Public meetings and other participation opportunities will be held throughout the environmental review process.  Public hearings will be held following the release of the DEIS. Learn more about how you can participate.


What is NEPA?

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is a federal law that requires the consideration of environmental issues for “major” federally-funded actions. Before any action or project using federal funds or involving federal lands can be completed, the environmental and social impacts must be disclosed in an environmental document. In the case of Corridor K, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared.

Learn more about the NEPA process by viewing the Council of Environmental Quality’s A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA  Adobe PDF file.

What is an EIS?

An Environmental Impact Statement or EIS is a full disclosure environmental document that is required by federal law under NEPA. NEPA requires agencies to prepare an EIS for major federal projects that may have significant effects to the environment. The EIS details the planning and development process, a range of reasonable alternatives and potential impacts resulting from the alternatives. The EIS is developed in compliance with applicable environmental laws and executive orders. Learn more by visiting FHWA’s EIS page.


How is TDOT using prior planning studies prepared for Corridor K?

Two earlier studies are informing the current development of the DEIS – the 2008 Southeast Tennessee Development District's Corridor K Economic Development and Transportation Study and the Transportation Planning Report completed in 2010 by TDOT. The TPR described the history of the project, existing transportation issues and environmental resources in the project area, and identified the preliminary need and potential alternatives for the project. The TPR is the starting point for developing the DEIS.


Building on the 2008 study, TDOT will conduct a detailed economic study for the Ocoee River Gorge section of Corridor K during the DEIS process. The economic and business analysis will include a review of potential effects to businesses, employment, sales, tax revenues and other topics. The project team will also conduct a thorough review of the 2008 economic study during this analysis. The results of the economic study will be presented in the DEIS for public review and comment.


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Public and Agency Participation
How can you participate in the project?
How are agencies involved?
What is the Citizens Resource Team (CRT)?
What input has the CRT provided?
Are other organizations involved?

How can you participate in the project?

Public input is essential to the success of the project. The project includes multiple opportunities for you to participate by submitting comments, attending public meetings and keeping informed through this website and newsletters. TDOT will issue public notices about upcoming public participation opportunities as they are scheduled.

Visit the Public Involvement page to learn more.


How are agencies involved?

The project involves coordination with local, state and federal resource and regulatory agencies. Interagency meetings and briefings are held throughout the project to keep agencies up-to-date with the latest project information.

The project is also undergoing a formal agency consultation process through the Tennessee Environmental Streamlining Agreement (TESA). TESA establishes a coordinated planning and project development process for transportation projects in Tennessee. During this process, agencies meet and approve project information at pre-determined concurrence points  Adobe PDF file.

 

What is the Citizens Resource Team (CRT)?

As a part of the CSS process, a Citizens Resource Team (CRT) was formed in February 2009 to provide additional stakeholder input to TDOT, ARC and FHWA.  The CRT is comprised of citizens who represent the interests of different stakeholder groups that have may be affected by or have an interest in the project. CRT members include community leaders, residents and representatives of business, environmental and recreational interests.

View the Public Involvement page to learn more.


What input has the CRT provided?


The CRT has met throughout the TPR phase and environmental review process for the project. The CRT has participated in the development of a project vision, values and project needs as well as provided input on the range of alternatives to be evaluated in the DEIS.

Learn more by visiting the CRT Materials page.


Are other organizations involved?

In addition to agency, CRT and general public involvement, TDOT conducts briefings with local officials, community/civic groups, business groups, and other interested groups/organizations to provide project updates and receive public input on the project.

An Economic, Environmental, and Utility (EEU) group was developed for the Corridor K project to incorporate leadership level input and ensure representatives are engaged during project planning and development.  Local and regional public officials are also engaged throughout project planning.

If your group or organization would like to meet with TDOT to discuss the project, please contact Chester Sutherland, Project Manager.


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Acronyms

ARC

Appalachian Regional Commission

CRT

Citizens Resource Team

CSS

Context Sensitive Solutions

DEIS

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

EIS

Environmental Impact Statement

FEIS

Final Environmental Impact Statement

FHWA

Federal Highway Administration

NEPA

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969

RPO

Rural Planning Organization

TDOT

Tennessee Department of Transportation

TESA

Tennessee Environmental Streamlining Agreement

TPR

Transportation Planning Report

 

Glossary

Alternatives: Options that TDOT will consider to address the significant issues and meet the purpose of and need for the proposed project.

Corridor: The geographic area used for the initial screening of alternatives. In the TPR, a 2,000-foot-wide corridor was used for analysis. If an environmentally sensitive area is found, the roadway alignment can be shifted within the corridor to avoid adverse impacts to the area.

Detailed study alternatives: Alternatives that will be studied in detail in the EIS. Design information, costs, potential social and environmental effects, and other information will be evaluated for each of the detailed study alternatives.

Preferred alternative: After analysis and consultation is complete, an agency picks an alternative to implement. The preferred alternative is chosen based on economic, environmental, and social factors, as well as agency and public comments. The preferred alternative is sometimes identified in the draft EIS and is always identified in the final EIS.

Study area: The geographic area addressed by the analysis in the study.


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