Several routes are under study for the planned Central Avenue Extension as part of a "corridor evaluation," City Engineer Bill Payne said.
"Several different options are being evaluated before final design work starts," he said.
Mr. Payne said the $760,772 study by Ragan-Smith Associates will take between 8-18 months.
He said, "There have been concerns expressed about plans to widen Central Avenue along its route from I-24, but that is not in our five-year plan.
I don't believe it's in the RPA's longterm transportation program."
Mr. Payne said the current project only goes from Third Street near Erlanger Hospital, Siskin Hospital and Lincoln Park to Amnicola Highway.
Some residents of Fort Wood and Lincoln Park, along with stakeholders on Central Avenue and Main Street, expressed concerns about the project.
They said new route options were proposed by the Regional Planning Agency and Chattanooga Public Works at a public meeting for the first time on March 26.
“Our first concern is that the project options presented at that meeting are substantively different than the project that was originally passed by City Council as Resolution #27133, the ‘3rd Street-Riverside Connector’,” said local business owner Stephen Harper.
“Without any input from the City Council, or the community at large, there has been a switch at the administrative level from the approved project to a wholly different project with a new name. This action violates the spirit, if not the letter, of NEPA Guidelines, as well as the City Charter,” Mr. Harper said.
As now proposed, Mr. Harper stated, Central Avenue "will become Chattanooga’s primary cross-town connector from I-24 to Amnicola Highway. This route will have a much greater environmental impact than the simple connecting route approved by the City Council.
“Traffic from I-24, State Highway 58, and emergency traffic will be dumped onto a city street that narrows northbound to a single lane. This traffic will be in addition to the existing traffic from UTC and Erlanger. It will divide the UTC campus and Historic Fortwood; it will seriously erode the quality of life in Lincoln Park. As many as 15,000 trucks a day from auto suppliers and logistics operations may use this new route to ship to Volkswagen and Amazon.
”There are other alternatives, including one proposed by a group of residents and stakeholders. This plan would avoid most of the serious environmental impact.
“We are formally requesting that the new mayor and the new City Council review this issue before it is allowed to go forward. It is our sincere hope that they will support us on this issue and publicly call for a review of this process and project by our newly elected officials."
The group listed a map link to see new options proposed by RPA and PW in red): http://goo.gl/maps/ah8f9. The original route is in yellow on the map. “Alternate Route 2.0” is in green on the map, the group said.