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James White Parkway - (State Route 71) Knox County

From Chapman Highway (State Route 71) to Moody Avenue in Knoxville.

Project Description

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), in accordance with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed construction of James White Parkway from Chapman Highway (U.S. 441/ SR-71, hereafter referred to as Chapman Highway) to Moody Avenue in South Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee. The proposed project would extend the existing James White Parkway, which currently ends at Moody Avenue, southward to Chapman Highway (SR-71) near its intersection with Governor John Sevier Highway (SR-168). This project, hereafter referred to as the James White Parkway Project, would improve access from the South Knoxville area to the Central Business District (CBD) in downtown Knoxville.

Background

James White Parkway was originally conceived when Chapman Highway was the primary route to Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road was intended to bypass the urban portion of that route. It was anticipated that construction of James White Parkway into southern Knox County would relieve Chapman Highway congestion caused in part by visitors passing through the area. Although the subsequent development of the Highway 66 connector from Sevierville to I-40 rerouted most of the non-local traffic from Chapman Highway, the James White Parkway project had developed another purpose. The increasing demand for a better commuter route for the fast growing areas of southern Knox County and the Seymour portion of Sevier County became the new rationale for its completion.

A Final EIS (FEIS) was approved for the South Knoxville Boulevard (James White Parkway) project on June 24, 1977. That FEIS covered a project which began at Chapman Highway near Longvale Drive and extended northward to SR-158 (CBD Loop) in Knoxville. Since that time, the segment of that project from the CBD Loop southward to Moody Avenue has been constructed and opened to traffic. This roadway is known as the James White Parkway. The segment of the approved project alignment between Old Sevierville Pike and Chapman Highway was subsequently determined to have engineering constraints due to several sinkholes along the route. The approved alignment also required a shift near Redbud Drive to avoid a historic church and residences.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to address an alternative alignment between Old Sevierville Pike and Chapman Highway. This portion of the project was referred to as South Knoxville Boulevard. The EA was approved by the FHWA on April 25, 2001. A Corridor and Design Public Hearing was conducted on July 31, 2001. Due to environmental issues identified in the EA and public concerns for the project identified during the hearing, it was suggested that other alternative alignments be studied and evaluated. Many people requested to extend the project to Governor John Sevier Highway (SR-168). No final environmental document was developed for the project due to the unresolved issues and public concerns. Link: NEPA: National Environmental Policy Act

Interest in JWP by City of Knoxville

In January 2002, the Knoxville City Council passed Resolution Number R-15-02 authorizing the creation of the City's James White Parkway Extension Task Force. As authorized by the City Council, the purpose of the task force was to evaluate various aspects of the project included routing and design of the unfinished portion of James White Parkway. Other aspects to be evaluated included the impact of the proposed project on Chapman Highway traffic; the impact on existing businesses; the environmental impact; the project's relationship to development patterns both within and outside of Knoxville; and potential impact upon existing neighborhoods.

In the spring of 2003, TDOT asked the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation to review proposed TDOT projects across the state, including the James White Parkway project. Based on the review, TDOT referred the project back to local officials for further review in November 2003. The James White Parkway–Chapman Highway Task Force Corridor Study (Task Force), with technical support from the Knoxville–Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), subsequently conducted an extensive review of the project. Although the Task Force had been authorized in January 2002 by the Knoxville City Council, it was expanded in 2004 to include stakeholders from both Knoxville and Knox County.

In January 2005, under Resolution R-37-05, the Knoxville City Council accepted and endorsed the Task Force Corridor Study and subsequently submitted the "James White Parkway Extension Recommendation" to TDOT.

Task Force Recommendations Accepted by Knoxville City Council

  • Conducting an EIS to cover a proposed extension of the southern terminus of the existing James White Parkway to Governor John Sevier Highway (SR-168),
  • making the proposed roadway a full access-controlled highway,
  • reconsidering the location of proposed interchanges along the new roadway,
  • utilizing environmentally-sensitive design and context- sensitive design to minimize neighborhood disruption,
  • and improve safety and operation of Chapman Highway.

Due to to the potential for meaningful impacts and public concerns identified during the preparation of the 2001 EA and during the Task Force review of the project, the required environmental documentation was subsequently elevated to an EIS. This EIS, which covers the proposed extension of the James White Parkway southward to Chapman Highway near the existing Governor John Sevier Highway interchange, is being developed to further study the anticipated impacts of the project.