Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do You want Toll Roads in Tennessee?

(This information is compliments of my friend Bobbie. Thanks Bobbie!) The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) held public meetings on July 10 (Memphis), July 15 (Nashville), and July 17 (Knoxville), 2008, to gather public input on the general concept of tolling. The Tennessee General Assembly has authorized TDOT to study possible toll projects and gather input from citizens. These meetings were intended to reach out to the public and hear their thoughts. These meetings did not focus on any particular project, but the concept of tolling in general and what it could bring to the State of Tennessee. Representatives of TDOT were available to provide information on this topic. If you missed these meetings, you can still voice your opinion whether you OPPOSTE or SUPPORT toll roads. Make you voice heard by submitting written statements and other exhibits to be included in the project transcript may be submitted within twen ty-one (21) days after the meeting date to the following address: Project Comments Tennessee Department of Transportation Suite 700, James K. Polk Building 505 Deaderick Street Nashville, TN 37243-0332 No toll road if public opposed TDOT official meets with people worried about Knox parkway By J.J. Stambaugh (Contact) Friday, July 18, 2008 Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely drew a round of applause Thursday when he promised that the proposed Knoxville Parkway won't be a toll road if the public is opposed to the idea. It was the only applause he drew during the 90-minute meeting at Bearden High School, which was attended by about 50 people. TDOT officials had billed the meeting as a chance to explore the concept of toll roads in general, but the audience members made it clear their minds were on the prospect that the controversial parkway might be selected as a pilot toll road. Nicely and other officials, including TDOT Chief of Environment and Planning Ed Cole, explained that the Legislature has authorized TDOT to look at possibly building toll roads, but included the caveat that "strong public support" is a prerequisite for moving forward. During a following question-and-answer session, Knoxville resident David Cochran asked Nicely to define "strong public support" for the audience, most of whom clearly were opposed to tolls. "That's one of the things we're doing here tonight," Nicely said. "I don't think I can define 'strong public support' tonight." Nicely's response initially drew snickers and groans from the crowd, but he found himself showered with applause after adding: "There probably is more opposition than there is support for the project. … If that trend continues, we would not proceed." TDOT is conducting an extended study on the possibility of funding the parkway as a toll road, one of several possible pilot projects across the state. It would include the so-called "Orange Route" that would connect Interstate 75 north of Knoxville in Anderson County with I-40/75 in Loudon County. It ultimately also could connect I-75 in Anderson County to I-40 east of Knoxville, at Exit 409 near the Jefferson/Sevier county line. To continue reading, go to http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/18/no-toll-road-if-public-opposed/

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