WaysSouth Says Goforth Creek Threatened By "Unnecessary Highway"

Thursday, February 07, 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"Goforth Creek is threatened by an outdated and unneeded plan to build a new major highway through the Cherokee National Forest.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."

 


Workplace Violence Thwarted In Collegedale

A man was arrested in Collegedale on multiple charges. At approximately   2 p.m. on Friday, Collegedale Police were dispatched to 9404 Ooltewah-Industrial Drive on report of a disorder with a weapon. A caller to the Hamilton County 911 center stated a male party was on the way to Hawker Powersource to kill an employee. Hamilton County 911 advised the Collegedale ... (click for more)

Procedures Changed For Youth Waterfowl Draw At Bogota WMA, Thorny Cypress WMA

Youngsters hopeful to participate in youth-only waterfowl hunts at Bogota and Thorny Cypress Wildlife Management Areas in 2015 will have two options to apply for the events. The hunts, for youth ages 6-15, are scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, 2015. A hand-held drawing will be held at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Dyersburg work base (335 Menzies Road, Dyersburg, Tn. ... (click for more)

Man Found Floating Near Manufacturers Road Was Steven Paul Calhoon, 34

The body found floating in the Tennessee River on Sunday morning downtown has been identified as 34-year-old Steven Paul Calhoon. C hattanooga Police are awaiting the results from the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death. At 8:31 a.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department was dispatched to 530 Manufacturers Road on a found body. Police said ... (click for more)

Bare Majority On County Commission Approves Support For Abortion Amendment

A bare majority of the County Commission on Wednesday morning voted to support an upcoming ballot amendment curbing abortion in Tennessee. Several commissioners said the issue was out of the commission's purview, and the vote should not have taken place. In favor were Sabrena Smedley, Randy Fairbanks, Jim Fields, Marty Haynes and Chester Bankston. Greg Beck and Warren Mackey ... (click for more)

How To Reform The City Industrial Development Board - And Response (3)

My aims is to bring to the public’s attention the need for procedural changes that, if implemented, would significantly improve the information available the public, to the City Council and to the City Industrial Development Board about the verifiable benefits and costs of tax incentive financing structures and to make the entire process transparent. The public, the City ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My October Garden

Hark! It is the first day of October and, as I make my monthly stroll through the garden, I find a growing numbers of leaves and acorns. Autumn leaves are beautiful while acorns are nuts, thus you will get the idea as we make our monthly awards: A PRETTY LEAF to Phil Hughes after the Minnesota Twins pitcher came within one inning of earning a $500,000 bonus this season. The deal ... (click for more)