TDOT Announces Decision for State Route 91 ImprovementsWednesday, April 11, 2012 | 08:13 am
TDOT Announces Decision for State Route 91 Improvements
Northern Widening alternative selected for Carter County project
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Following years of discussion with citizens, local and state officials, as well as state and federal agencies, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has chosen to move forward with the Northern Widening alternative for the State Route 91 Improvement project in Carter County.
The proposed project will consist of adding a center turn lane along the 4-lane undivided portion of West Elk Avenue from Holly Lane to North Roan Street. There will also be sidewalk improvements and repaving of State Route 91 from West G Street to State Route 37 (US 19E). This project will improve traffic congestion and reduce the potential for crashes along State Route 91.
“With crucial input from local citizens, the Department is pleased to have reached a decision on the State Route 91 Improvements project,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This will be a safer, less congested roadway for travelers in Upper East Tennessee.”
Senator Rusty Crowe said, “Having worked with TDOT and the city for a number of years, I know the route to the north was not feasible due to environmental issues. On the South side, we have the Gap Creek project. In the end, the best option is to go through town to provide the needed relief. I’d like to thank Commissioner John Schroer and TDOT staff for their willingness to move this project forward, and Governor Bill Haslam for his attention to this project as well.”
Representative Kent Williams added, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank TDOT for their efforts in finding ways to improve our transportation system in Carter County. Environmental impacts and cost issues prevented the Highway 91 Bypass from being a viable option, but with that being said, the new Gap Creek Road and Elk Avenue improvement will facilitate traffic flow through Elizabethton. TDOT and I have a great working relationship and will continue to work together to make our highways better and safer.”
This project, originally known as the “Elizabethton Northern Connector,” was initiated back in 1996 at the request of local officials. Prior studies and consideration were given to three alternatives on a new roadway, but were eliminated because of numerous environmental impacts. Based on comments received from the December 2, 2010 public meeting, support from citizens and local officials for the Northern Widening project was considerable in comparison to other widening and new roadway proposals.
As mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), projects receiving federal funding are required to undergo a fully detailed environmental review, whereby the transportation need must be considered, and impacts to the environment evaluated. In comparison with other widening alternatives, the ability to reduce congestion and improve safety, while minimizing impacts to adjoining businesses, were critical factors in the Department’s choosing the Northern Widening option for State Route 91.
TDOT estimates the earliest timeframe for construction to begin would be summer of 2015.
For more information about this project, please visit www.tdot.state.tn.us/sr91.