A resolution is going before Knox County Commission stating that the Commission does not want any toll roads in Knox County. This resolution has been introduced by Commissioner Mike Hammond.
The resolution will be considered in committee on April 21, 8:30 a.m., in the main assembly room of the City-County Building. It will be voted on in full commission April 28, 2 p.m., same place.

Why should Blount County residents care about this resolution?
Because allowing toll roads means even more roads will be built across Tennessee when we should be shifting resources to other forms of transportation, and without federal funding these roads will not be subject to federal environmental review (NEPA). Even though this is (for the moment) a Knox County matter, input from the surrounding counties is important. In addition if you have friends and family in Knox County, please forward this information to them.

Knox County road watchers are asking people to write a quick e-mail before April 21 to all the county commissioners (see list with e-mail links below). The remainder of this post comes from our Knox County allies:

Refer to the Hammond resolution against toll roads and tell them why you want them to support it. Scroll down this e-mail for some good talking points and background info. USE YOUR OWN WORDS to urge them to vote for this resolution and against toll roads.

A county commission vote against a Knox County toll road will go a long way toward telling TDOT to abandon this idea.

NOTE: This issue is NOT about a private company owning and operating the road, be it American or otherwise. This is NOT about Orange Route vs Blue Route. This is NOT about whether the Knox Parkway should be built. This is about a proposed new mechanism to fund the quick construction of major TN roads.

Some Talking Points:
* Tolls are a new form of taxation.
* Private toll roads are particularly bad; they take people's homes and hand them over to a corporation to turn a profit.
* Resorting to toll financing means that TDOT has done a poor job in planning for our future transportation needs. TDOT must plan more effectively and live within its budget like the rest of us.
* TN roadway construction has always been on a pay-as-you-go basis, and should stay that way.
* Toll plazas along the route will produce congestion, accidents, and air pollution due to stop-and-go traffic.
* TDOT is planning new highways slated to open in 15-20 years, when transportation will look significantly different than it does today. The price of gasoline and climate change issues will force our society to finally take a closer look at public transit.
* Toll road status would switch the Parkway (Orange Route) to being a state project (not Federal) and will allow TDOT to skip environmental studies!

Background Info:
At a recent TPO meeting where a Parkway toll road resolution was considered, two Knox county commissioners (Mike Hammond - Dist 5 and Greg Lambert - Dist 6) spoke against designating the Parkway as a toll road. City Mayor Haslam made a non-specific comment that he does not much care for toll roads. This sentiment is important because TDOT's Ed Cole is also on record as saying that they would never put a toll road in a locale where it was not wanted.
TDOT Commissioner Nicely also has expressed this opinion. Hammond is truly against toll roads, which he sees as a new form of tax. Commissioner Greg Lambert is a co-sponsor of this resolution (the proposed Parkway is in his district.).

If the resolution fails to pass, TDOT will say that the local politicians have spoken, and they want a toll road.

WHY DO BELTWAY/PARKWAY OPPONENTS WANT TO STOP TOLL ROADS?
TDOT does not have the funding to build the Parkway without declaring it a toll road. If it is to be a toll road, they would sell municipal bonds to gather the money to build the road, with the idea that the debt service would be handled by the toll income. Thus, construction of the toll road would be "free" for TDOT. According to TDOT's Ed Cole, the toll will never go away - even after the road is paid for. Also, switching the Beltway/Parkway to a Toll Road (where federal money is not needed) will let TDOT bail out of the NEPA process. (So, when the environmental studies are going badly, they can just change the rules.)

Knox County Commissioners:
1st District (Downtown)
- Thomas Strickland E-mail: thomas.strickland@knoxcounty.org
- Samuel McKenzie E-mail: sam.mckenzie@knoxcounty.org
2nd District (I-640 area, Fountain City, parts of Halls)
- Mark Harmon E-mail: mark.harmon@knoxcounty.org
- Mark Campen E-mail: mark.campen@knoxcounty.org
3rd District (Merchants Dr., Pleasant Ridge, Middlebrook)
- Ivan Harmon E-mail: ivan.harmon@knoxcounty.org
- Tony Norman E-mail: tony.norman@knoxcounty.org
4th District (Northshore Dr, Morrell Rd, K-Pike)
- Elaine Davis E-mail: elaine.davis@knoxcounty.org
- William Daniels E-mail: william.daniels@knoxcounty.org
5th District (Concord, Farragut)
- Mike Hammond E-mail: mike.hammond@knoxcounty.org
- Craig Leuthold E-mail: craig.leuthold@knoxcounty.org
- Richard Briggs E-mail: richard.briggs@knoxcounty.org
6th District (Karns, Hardin Valley)
- Greg Lambert E-mail: greg.lambert@knoxcounty.org
- Robert Rountree E-mail: robert.roundtree@knoxcounty.org
7th District (Heiskell, Emory Rd, Powell, parts of Halls)
- Scott Moore E-mail: scott.moore@knoxcounty.org
- R. Larry Smith E-mail: larry.smith@knoxcounty.org
8th District (East Knox Co, Mascot, Strawberry Plains)
- Phil Ballard E-mail: phil.ballard@knoxcounty.org
- Dave Wright E-mail: dave.wright@knoxcounty.org
9th District (South Knoxville)
- Paul Pinkston E-mail: paul.pinkston@knoxcounty.org
- Victoria DeFreese E-mail: victoria.defreese@knoxcounty.org

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

State .GOV

Wire Reports