Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 6, 2008

It's decided: Hwy. 127 North project will use current route

It's a decision area residents and government leaders have been waiting for almost nine years to hear. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will move forward with the Hwy. 127 North road project, using the current route.

"We can plan what we want to do now," said Dwight Hoover, a Rinnie resident. One of the alternate routes considered would have come near his home. "It was stressful. It got us pretty upset, but I'm pleased they decided to go that route."

The highway will primarily be a four-lane divided roadway with a grass median stretching 14 miles from Interstate 40 in Cumberland County to Hwy. 62 in Fentress County.

Ann Andrews, project manager for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said construction was still about four years away. A final Environmental Impact Statement must be completed and approved before design of the roadway can begin. The survey and design phase will take about two years, Andrews said, and the right-of-way acquisition would take about two years. Each phase is funded independently, and the project will be broken into four sections. This timeline, Andrews noted, is dependent on funding of both right-of-way acquisition and construction.

"If funding is available for both phases, the construction could begin in approximately four years on one of the sections," Andrews said.

The project began in 1999 when local officials in Cumberland and Fentress counties asked for a feasibility study on improving the route. Motorists had long complained of traffic congestion, sharp curves and limited sight. Fentress County leaders also sought a better route to Interstate 40 to aid with economic development.

In 2003, the project was recommended for the Context Sensitive Solution process. Area residents, business owners and civic leaders began work in 2004 as part of a Citizens Resource Team and Clarkrange Working Group. The teams evaluated improving the existing roadway versus moving the roadway off the current route in three segments, Tabor Loop to North Cumberland Elementary, North Cumberland to No Business Creek and Lick Fork Creek to Mary Carr Rd.

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