TDOT is holding meetings across the state as part of an I-40/I-81 corridor study. This study will identify 'improvements' for the 550-mile Interstate 40/81 corridor between Bristol and Memphis. See (link...)

Among the alternatives under study is the benefit of shifting freight to rail vs. adding new lanes to I-40 and I-81.

In Virginia, a comprehensive study of using rail vs. interstates for freight along I-81 will be released in May. Norfolk Southern is willing to share their data with state Departments of Transportation along the I-40/I-81 corridor.

We need to encourage TDOT to review the Virginia data before reaching any conclusions about what will be best for Tennessee. TDOT is currently relying on flawed analyses from over three years ago. And TDOT is already saying that widening the interstates will be more cost effective than shifting freight to rail.

Some observers think TDOT intends to avoid thorough environmental analysis of the major transportation options for the I-40/81 corridor. For example, if they segment the widening of I-40 and I-81 into dozens of small construction projects these will have NEPA clearances under categorical exclusions.

A full-corridor environmental impact statement is necessary for the rail alternative to be properly defined and a full accounting of costs and benefits done. In a thorough benefit/cost analysis, adverse environmental impacts are recognized and accounted for even if, in some cases, you cannot put a dollar value on them.

Please attend the Knoxville area TDOT meeting and urge TDOT to look at Norfolk Southern’s data. The Knoxville meeting is Monday, April 7, 5-7pm in the auditorium at TDOT headquarters, 7345 Region Lane, Knoxville (this is at the Strawberry Plains exit of I-40).

Written comments will be also accepted within twenty-one (21) days after the workshop date to the following address: Project Comments, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Suite 700, James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0332.

NEPA

NEPA talk sure turns me on :)

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