The project is currently proceeding through the required Environmental Review process (NEPA). The first step in the process was getting public input on the purpose and need for the project. This information was gathered at the February 22, 2007 public meeting held at the Elizabethton High School.
After reviewing comments from the public, local officials and agencies, TDOT held two public workshops on July 12, 2007 to gather public input on the development of potential project alternatives that would address the purpose and need for the project. Meeting attendees were shown maps of the project area with one 1,000-foot corridor to the north of the existing roadway, one 6,000-foot corridor to the south of the existing roadway and one corridor that followed the existing roadway and asked to provide their comments and suggestions. After the comments were reviewed, the TDOT project team developed seven potential build options; four to the north of the existing roadway, two to the south and one that follows the existing roadway. These were presented to the public during a meeting for the project at the Elizabethton High School on December 13, 2007.
On April 10, 2008 the TDOT project team conducted a project field review with resource agencies (i.e. US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, US Corps of Engineers) to review the proposed alternatives and discuss any issues and concerns about the project.
Based on the potential for significant environmental impacts and the results of a detailed traffic analysis, the resource agencies reached agreement in April, 2009 that three of the seven potential build options should undergo further environmental analysis. Among these alternatives included one option to the north of the existing roadway, one to the south and improvements to the existing roadway.
Refinement of the three alternatives and additional preliminary technical studies identified substantial potential impacts to a number of environmental resources within the remaining northern and southern bypass alternatives.
TDOT presented the results of the analysis for the three remaining alternatives (north, south, existing) to the public for review and comment on April 22, 2010. Corridor 7 (the One-Way pair alternative along the existing route) was identified by TDOT, based on agency and public comments, as the preferred alternative. As a result of the meeting, the majority of public comments expressed support to move forward with additional analysis of the one-way pair alternative. After coordination with FHWA and the resource agencies, the class of environmental documentation was downgraded from an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to a Categorical Exclusion (CE).
What Is Happening Now?
On July 30, 2010, the City of Elizabethton passed a resolution supporting the widening of SR 91 between Holly Lane and North Roan Street and requested that TDOT study that alternative. Following the City’s request, TDOT developed three potential widening options and conducted a preliminary analysis on them. TDOT presented the results of the analysis of the widening options and the one-way pair alternative to the public on December 2, 2010. The presentation included discussion of the following alternatives:
What Are The Next Steps?
Once the public comments from the December 2, 2010 public meeting are reviewed, TDOT will select a preferred alternative that will move forward in the environmental review process. Once the preferred alternative has been selected, the technical studies will be finalized and the environmental documentation completed.
Next Project Steps