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"Goforth Creek is threatened by an outdated and unneeded plan to build a new major highway through the Cherokee National Forest.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

 


TFWC Receives Updates On Asian Carp And Duck Hunters Survey

Trump Administration Adds 1,275 Miles To National Trail System

Tennessee RiverLine Announces 15 Partner Communities Across State And Region


An update on Asian carp, results of a recent Tennessee duck hunters survey, and annual divisional awards presentations were among the business conducted at the October meeting of the Tennessee ... (click for more)

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced 30 new national recreation trails in 25 states, adding more than 1,275 miles to the National Trails System. Secretary Bernhardt made ... (click for more)

Fifteen communities have been accepted to the inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program as part of the Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system. This transformative ... (click for more)



Outdoors

TFWC Receives Updates On Asian Carp And Duck Hunters Survey

An update on Asian carp, results of a recent Tennessee duck hunters survey, and annual divisional awards presentations were among the business conducted at the October meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. The one-day meeting was held Friday in the Tom and Wendy Beasley Education Center at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Buffalo Ridge Refuge. It was ... (click for more)

Trump Administration Adds 1,275 Miles To National Trail System

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced 30 new national recreation trails in 25 states, adding more than 1,275 miles to the National Trails System. Secretary Bernhardt made the announcement from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, where he designated 76 miles of the Colorado River within Lake Mead National Recreation Area as a national water trail. The newly ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Flash Flood Watch Goes In Effect As Heavy Rains Continue; Hamilton County, Cleveland Schools On 2-Hour Delay' Georgia NW To Close Campuses

A flash flood watch goes into effect beginning at 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) and continuing through Thursday afternoon as heavy downpours continue. Hamilton County Schools will be on a two-hour delay Thursday due to Tropical Storm Zeta forecasted to be in the area until 8 a.m. School officials said, "The high winds and heavy rains associated with the storm system could impact ... (click for more)

Health Administrator Says County Residents "Letting Their Guard Down" As COVID-19 Cases Spike Again; Seniors Advised To Have "Virtual Thanksgiving"

Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes on Tuesday said a new spike in COVID-19 cases is caused by county residents "letting their guard down." She said the “curve” had been flattened momentarily, but now the county is starting to see a rise in cases. For instance, on Sept. 12, Hamilton County was averaging 59 cases a day. On the week ending on Oct. 24, this rate has risen ... (click for more)

Opinion

Voting Lines Are Too Long - And Response

I’ve tried three times this week to vote at the Collegedale early voting place. Each time I’ve been there, the line was not only around the building, but it stretched at least another block (or two) into the adjacent parking lot. I realize that it is easy for someone like me to criticize the ones running the election, but I feel criticism is deserved in this case. If they cared ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Bunch Of Hogwash

There are those who fault Donald Trump for the unkind divisiveness that is “the second plague” roiling the United States right now. But did you notice that when the brilliant Amy Coney Barrett was approved by the Senate to become our newest Supreme Court Justice, the entirety of “those” Democrat Senators voted against her? I tend to believe many who voted ‘no’ would actually support ... (click for more)