published Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Opinions sought on Corridor K

SEE THE SURVEY


Online: For a Web version of the survey, go to www.tdot.state.tn.us/corridork

In person: Paper copies of the survey will be available within days at:

• Chambers of Commerce in Athens, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Etowah, Copperhill and Ducktown

• Copperhill City Hall

• Ducktown City Hall

• Ocoee/Hiwassee Ranger District Office in Polk County

• U.S. post offices in Benton, Copperhill and Ducktown

• East Polk Public Library

• Polk County Public Library

• Ducktown Basin Museum

• Lake Ocoee Inn and Marina

• Ocoee Whitewater Center

• Piggly Wiggly in Ducktown

Source: TDOT

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—The Tennessee Department of Transportation wants public comment on the economic impact of Corridor K.

A survey is already online, and paper copies soon will be available at a number of locations within a five-county area, according to the department.

The Corridor K project is a study of potential new routes on or near U.S. Highway 64 through the Ocoee River Gorge.

A widening project has been on the books for decades, and many area leaders began pushing harder after a 2009 rock slide closed the highway for months and cut off Polk County’s eastern and western communities.

Tom Towhill, a Polk County business owner and Polk County Chamber of Commerce official, said Thursday he already has completed the survey.

“A new road would give a level of stability to transportation that we don’t have,” he said. “We are missing out on a lot of economic growth because we don’t have a dependable route.”

A statewide survey of the 23 most rock slide-prone sites lists 13 within the five-mile river gorge, he said.

Elois Ledford, Polk County Chamber of Commerce president, said the 2009 rock slide “showed us just how much the county can be crippled.”

“We depend on tourism traffic, and the river is one of our greatest assets,” she said. “That represents tax dollars in our pocket, from a county point of view. The rivers, the Ocoee and the Hiwassee, are our economic life.”

The proposed project begins west of the Ocoee River and ends near Ducktown.

TDOT is conducting a detailed economic and business study as part of the project, including potential effects on businesses, jobs, sales and tax revenues.

Towhill and Ledford said the more public participation in the economic survey, the better.

Jennifer Flynn, TDOT spokeswoman, said paper copies of the survey will be available within days.

The deadline for responses is July 1.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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