The Blount County TPO Regional Mobility Plan 2035 meeting was held at the library. There were eighteen attendees and three presenters. Jeff Welch and Amy Brooks were two of the three representatives from Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). At least four of the attendees were either local government employees or press. At least one representative of CAPPE was in attendance.

The first half was a slide-show presentation regarding the function of TPO, the areas they cover, previous meeting participant action items, area growth, and principles (e.g. preserve and manage).

TPO (or someone) expects the region to grow by 700,000 people in the next twenty years. We may not be able to afford new roads, thus existing roads must be "preserved and managed". There was quite a bit of discussion on density, density, density. Blount County bad because people have quarter acre yards? Women will outgrow their ability to drive. It's for the women! Lordy, women won't know what to do. We'll be so isolated on our quarter acres, why, we won't know what to do!

From a previous, informal survey, TPO determined bike transportation (27%) to be a primary concern, more transit (21%) and alternative transportation (17%) were next in line of importance. It was reported that 50 percent of respondents surveyed thought new roads were the least important.

Attendees were then asked to contribute Action Items for regional mobility of the future.

  • Keep monies earmarked (love that word) for local highway funds local.
  • Mass transit for Blount County workers to UT and downtown Knoxville.
  • Improve existing roads rather than create new roads.
  • Commuter lanes on Chapman and Alcoa highways. (Huh?)
  • Create development along existing corridors (versus new roads).
  • Encourage government and business leaders to look into encouraging denser development.
  • Give this presentation to government and business leaders. Ask them what they think.
  • McMansions and demand from private sector negatively affecting mass transportation.
  • Auto-centric society affecting mass transportation, not McMansions. Years ago there was bus service from/to Blount County/Knox County.
  • Discourage use of private automobiles.
  • Encourage bus transportation.
  • Educate the people on the benefits of mass transit. Use historical references.
  • Educate the people on the hidden costs of too many cars, e.g. air pollution can result in increased healthcare needs and damages the environment.
  • Identify and expand stakeholders.
  • Bring CSX into the discussion for rail access to/from Knox County.
  • Educate young people on mass transit.
  • Raise driving age to 18.

Lots of complaining, no brainstorming. That's the ticket.

(Then I left).

My two cents.

Action items not mentioned:

  • Encourage people to purchase low gas consumption cars.
  • Encourage people to purchase hybrid cars.
  • Encourage people to carpool.
  • Encourage large companies to develop carpools and shuttle/bus/van services for their employees.

The University of Tennessee in Knoxville has 8,300 employees and 26,400 students. Not far from the UT main campus is the UT Medical Center with approximately 2,000 + employees. Even closer is Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center with probably 2,000 employees. That's over 12,000 employees and 26,400 students within a couple of miles. Leaving out the students, it would seem reasonable for these three organizations to work together to offer some sort of shuttle/bus/van service to their employees. I'll bet each of these organizations know how many employees they have that live in Blount County. If 10% of their employees are from Blount County, then surely out of 1,200 people there are several hundred that would be interested in riding a bus a couple of times a week. My guess is that many of these people do not need/want their cars during the day. It's not glamorous, it doesn't require density, it's relatively cheap, it doesn't require any new roads, it's just too easy.

Could this work elsewhere? What about Denso in Blount County? How many employees do they have and where do they live? What about all of those people that work in "Oak Ridge" on those "secret" projects? How many employees do they have and where do they live?

TPO is the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) for the Knoxville Urban area, which includes "urbanized" area of Knox, Blount, Loudon, and Sevier counties. "An MPO is a planning agency established by federal law to assure a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process takes place that results in the development of plans, programs, and projects that consider all transportation modes and supports the goals of the community. "

Women? Higher density?

Higher density? Yeah, let's put those trailers three deep, one right on top of each other in the county! But what in the world is going on with regards to the comments about women drivers???

I wondered about that

I wondered about that myself. I didn't get to hear the whole sentence. I think he was referring to women are living longer, thus living longer than they can ably drive.

If I recall correctly, he

If I recall correctly, he said that within (insert time element I forget) women, on average, would be expected to outlive their ability to drive by 8 to 10 years.

Isn't it wonderful that the

Isn't it wonderful that the region already has ETHRA to assist seniors, including women, with transportation. Knoxville/Knox County also have the CAC transportation service. Both have been around for a while.

The Knox Area TPO supports

The Knox Area TPO supports the Pellissippi Parkway Extension, which essentialy everybody knows will contribute to more sprawl in Blount County. Now they want input on how to mitigate the negative effects on mobility of sprawl. Makes sense to me!

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