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"Goforth Creek is threatened by an outdated and unneeded plan to build a new major highway through the Cherokee National Forest.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

 


4 Horses Sickened By EIA In Middle Tennessee

Groundbreaking For New Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn Held On Tuesday

TWRA To Host Public Meeting At Pickwick Landing State Park To Discuss Fisheries Management On Lake, Tailwaters


The state veterinarian is advising horse owners of four cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in Middle Tennessee. Staff at the C.E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory tested blood ... (click for more)

Tennessee State Parks and elected officials broke ground on Tuesday for a new inn, restaurant and conference center at Fall Creek Falls State Park, part of a broader $200 million investment in ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will hold a public meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Pickwick Landing State Park to discuss fisheries management on Pickwick Lake and its tailwaters. The ... (click for more)


Outdoors

4 Horses Sickened By EIA In Middle Tennessee

The state veterinarian is advising horse owners of four cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in Middle Tennessee. Staff at the C.E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory tested blood samples and determined that four horses stabled at a farm in Rutherford County were positive for EIA. Those horses were euthanized. Six other horses at the same farm tested negative, but ... (click for more)

Groundbreaking For New Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn Held On Tuesday

Tennessee State Parks and elected officials broke ground on Tuesday for a new inn, restaurant and conference center at Fall Creek Falls State Park, part of a broader $200 million investment in state parks over the last eight years by Governor Bill Haslam’s administration and the Tennessee General Assembly. The facility at Fall Creek Falls is part of over $175 million in capital ... (click for more)

Breaking News

McNally Says New Governor Lee To Continue State's Success

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge)said Saturday, following the inauguration of Governor Bill Lee by joint convention of the Tennessee General Assembly, that the new governor will continue the state's recent success. "Despite the weather in Nashville, today was a beautiful day in Tennessee. The inauguration of Bill Lee gave this state something not seen before in modern ... (click for more)

5 Arrested For Blocking Road During Women's Rally In Chattanooga

Five people were arrested during a Women's Rally in Chattanooga on Saturday. They were charged with obstructing a highway. They included Virginia Marie Moss, 57, of 981 Fairmount Ave. and Alaina Kailyn Cobb, 32, of 3615 Highland Terrace Dr. Also arrested was William Boyd Nix, 49, of 901 Siskin Dr. and Joel Ryan Willis, 52, of 5700 Roper St., East Ridge. Jean-Marie Lawrence, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Jim Morgan - My Coach And Neighbor

Upon Jim Morgan's death, my mind and heart flooded back to my memories of growing up in Chattanooga. I thought I would share my fond memories of such a great man. A few thoughts for one of the sweetest and finest men I ever knew: I remember Jim Morgan "Coach" not just as one of his wrestlers, but as a close family friend, teacher and neighbor. While Coach was my ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It seems there has been quite an increase in calls from telemarketers and I asked my man Cleo if he had any idea how to stop them. “What works if you are male -- Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company." You wait for a second and, with a real husky voice, ask, "What are you wearing?" If you are a female try this: Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my ... (click for more)