The Pellissippi Parkway Extension is a done deal. The heads of the five families (Blount Co. Mayor, Maryville Mayor, Maryville City Manager, Alcoa Mayor, and Alcoa City Manager) all support it. A massive Chamber of Commerce turnout arrived in Mercedes Benz and wool suits to support it. They are well organized, and shouted down the "antis" at several points.
It's a done deal, and these public forums are all just part of the dance for appearances' sake. TDOT doesn't really care one way or another. They have plenty of projects on their list and they can just move down to the next one. But when the elected officials and business community support it (including all the car dealers on Alcoa Highway according to someone) and it gets approved, they go about their work of getting it done.
It will be many years before the bulldozers scoop the first bucket of dirt, and the only thing that might stop them is a massive lawsuit. I'm not sure a) who would mount it, or b) on what grounds.
The only other thing that could stop it is the Environmental Impact Statement. But the way the discussion of the EIS is framed, it is a formality designed to support a foregone conclusion and recommend ways to minimize and mitigate impact.
At this point, the best anyone who opposes the PPE can hope for is to try to influence the project in a positive way. TDOT mentioned several times that concerns about noise buffers, runoff and water quality, other environmental impacts, aesthetics, bike trails, etc. should all be brought up in the EIS discussion phase. As I said earlier, TDOT doesn't really care, and is open to any suggestions.
The TDOT people seem like professionals concerned about doing a good job on their part, and I get a sense that they will listen to reasonable input and try to plan as best they can to build a road that satisfies as many concerns as they can. They emphasized that the other community and social impacts are the local government's business.
I got a sense from the local official's remarks that they haven't given it a great deal of thought in terms of planning for the impact and the development that the road will bring. That is the other challenge for PPE opponents: to get busy with local government to get the planning underway based on realistic projections of what will be needed in terms of new and improved infrastructure, zoning, and growth management.
P.S. I noticed that a couple of local officials talked about "controlling" growth as opposed to "managing" growth, which is a term I didn't hear mentioned. This is interesting, because they don't really want to "control" growth because growth increases the tax base which in turn increases revenues over which they have influence which in turn enhances their "power." The fact that they don't talk about "managing" growth is revealing.
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