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Pellissippi Parkway expansion route announced; displaced residents react

11:30 PM, Jun 1, 2012   |    comments
  • TDOT Preffered route for Pellissippi Parkway
    
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Blount County farmers and homeowners have fought for years against Pellissippi Parkway extending through their property.

Now, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is making the expansion route official. But not everyone thinks it's a bad idea.

Friday TDOT announced they chose Alternative A for the expansion route for Pellissippi Parkway.

After several proposals were studied, they found it to be the best alternative to reduce traffic congestion and displace the least amount of people: five homes, one business, and 10 parcels of farm land.

Interchanges are planned at Old Knoxville Highway, Highway 411, and Highway 321.

The 2009 preliminary cost report puts the estimated price tag at $96 million.

Bowman Farms, founded in 1911, is in the path of the new route. "The proposed Pellissippi Parkway extension would come take my family birthplace, obviously take our land which is irreplaceable. We've fought very hard and been in court for an extended period of time," said Tom Robinson, owner of Bowman Farms.

It's a similar story at nearby Brad Reagan's home. He will be forced to sell the house his grandparents built and it's not the only home on his family's land that will be lost.

"I'll take lots of pictures, preserve it. So I'll have memories of what it looks like before Pellissippi comes through," said Reagan.

Many of the landowners have expressed their frustration with signs, letters, and lawsuits.

TDOT says there are many pros to the expansion.

The city and county governments are on board as well as the Blount Partnership, an organization that recruits business.

"The parkway expansion is definitely going to help bring in more business along that route. It also should help encourage development among the parkway itself too," said Jeff Muir, Communications Director for the Blount Partnership.

The Blount Partnership also believes it will spur interest in Pellissippi Place, the industrial park that has been empty since it was created.

Even though TDOT will compensate the landowners, Bowman Farms says it doesn't make it right.

"I don't want the money; I just want the land," said Robinson.

TDOT says the process is far from over. It has to preform more environmental tests that aren't scheduled to be finished until 2013.

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