WaysSouth Says Goforth Creek Threatened By "Unnecessary Highway"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has named Goforth Creek in Polk County, Tn., as one of its “Top Ten Endangered Places” in the South for 2013. WaysSouth, an organization "promoting responsible transportation decisions in Appalachia," said it "supports SELC’s recognition of this special place, which is located in the Ocoee River Gorge near Ducktown, Tn.

WaysSouth said the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) "is planning to blast a major new highway through the Cherokee National Forest which would destroy Goforth Creek’s recreational value and pristine waters.

By TDOT’s own estimate, this new highway would cost a billion dollars, and it isn’t necessary to meet the area’s transportation needs."

 “We encourage TDOT to make smart improvements to the existing U.S. Highway 64—the environmentally and fiscally responsible solution,” said Melanie Mayes, WaysSouth’s chairperson.

She said, "The Ocoee Gorge is an irreplaceable recreational resource and an important economic driver in Southeast Tennessee. The forest, streams, and wilderness in the Ocoee Gorge are special, and they are the lifeblood of Polk County’s tourism economy. And in the Ocoee gorge, only Goforth Creek allows recreational access to hiking, trout fishing, camping, wading, picnicking, wildlife watching, and broad vistas of the river canyon. Both locals and tourists enjoy the easy access to this unique area.

"Goforth Creek is threatened by an outdated and unneeded plan to build a new major highway through the Cherokee National Forest. Known as Corridor K, the highway is a 1960s-era plan to build a chain of highways between Chattanooga and Asheville. But the remaining portions of the project, including the segment threatening Goforth Creek, aren’t necessary: TDOT recently acknowledged that a 2-lane road can handle projected traffic for the next 30 years, a decision which opens the door to making smart improvements to the existing road.

"TDOT already has the funds to make these smart improvements to U.S. 64 ($273 million in earmarked federal funds). Building a new highway, however, would quadruple the cost, and any additional money spent must be taken away from Tennessee’s other, more pressing projects. As a Smart Growth America report found last August, Tennessee has nine times more road projects than it has funding. Regarding another project with a similar pricetag, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer wrote in the Memphis Commercial Appeal that spending so much on a single project, 'regardless of its location,' would be 'downright irresponsible and potentially dangerous.'

"In addition, while improvements to the new road could be made without delay, the new highway would take 25-30 years to construct after ground is broken, and anyone hoping to use the highway to commute would be retired before it was finished. We at WaysSouth hope TDOT will make the responsible decision and put its energy into fixing the roads we have, not building new roads we don’t need.

”The alternative—pressing ahead with this unnecessary project—is just too destructive. The impacts to the area’s streams, wildlife, and recreation cannot be justified. In addition to the obvious impacts of a new highway footprint, the area contains “hot rock” formations which drain sulfuric acid to streams when they are disturbed. The road would also be a major new barrier to wildlife movement up and down the main Appalachian mountain chain, affecting sportsmen in Tennessee and North Georgia. And Goforth Creek, which is in the crosshairs of the new highway, would be lost forever.

"For years, WaysSouth has advocated for a reasonable alternative that would improve the current road through the Ocoee Gorge, meeting transportation and safety needs with the least environmental cost. Unfortunately, TDOT continues to put its energy, and taxpayer dollars, into a new highway that would needlessly destroy our public lands and waters—an environmental and economic pricetag that Tennessee simply can’t afford."

 


“I Have Heard That Yell Before:” Some Of Chickamauga’s Confederate Commanders During Reconstruction

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to attend a 2-hour car caravan tour of Chickamauga Battlefield focusing on the post war activities of several of the battle’s Confederate commanders. This tour begins at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.    Program participants will hear the stories of several ... (click for more)

Inaugural Signal Mountain Trail Day Set For May 14

The Land Trust for Tennessee and community partners announced "Trail Day: A Celebration of Signal Mountain’s Parkland." The inaugural event will take place on Saturday, May 14, from  9 a.m.- 3 p.m. , and the festivities will be centered around The Rainbow Lake trail head on Signal Mountain. Parking will be off-site at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church with ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke Pledges $6 Million For New Recreation Center At Avondale

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that he plans to include $6 million in his upcoming budget for a new Recreation Center at Avondale. He said at a press conference at the current center on Dodson Avenue, "We want to make an investment in Avondale." Mayor Berke said the current center by Wilcox Boulevard was built in 1949 and last remodeled in 2002. The new center, which ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Thankful For The Vital Role Teachers Played In My Life

Re: Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow Roy, I am especially appreciative of your poignant column written in tribute to teachers.  It made me tear up, as I have encountered both as a student and a career educator-- teachers like the second-grade teacher who said, "I wish you were my little girl" and teachers like Mrs. Poindexter.   My teachers have played such a vital ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘No’ To Schools Budget

When the Hamilton County Commissioners and officials of the Hamilton County Department of Education met for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday, they studied a proposed budget of roughly $385 million – this $24.2 million over an anticipated $361 million in revenues. Now let’s pretend it is a Tuesday night at your own kitchen table and your favorite son – after misbehaving in a somewhat stunning ... (click for more)