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Orange Route gets TDOT nod

The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced today that it would build a modified version of the proposed State Route 475/Knoxville Beltway known as the Orange Route.

TDOT commissioner Gerald Nicely made the announcement during a news conference at the department’s Region One Headquarters in Knoxville Monday, Nov. 10.

“We are going to build the beltway, but we are going to evaluate possible modifications to the corridor known as the Orange Route,” Nicely said. “After a great deal of study we have determined that a modified version of the Orange Route will provide the greatest traffic benefit. It will also offer a shorter travel route, with fewer noise impacts – all of which correlate directly with the Knoxville Long Range Plan.”

The project involves the construction of a new, access-controlled, divided highway connecting Interstate 75 southwest of Knoxville, with I-75 north of the city, thereby providing a bypass route around the northwest side of the Knoxville metropolitan area.

Nicely’s announcement comes after a detailed review by the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research of 15 proposed TDOT projects across the state. Regarding the Knoxville Beltway Orange Route, the UT review team recommended considering some modifications that would include a more interactive process with the community.

State Rep. H.E. Bittle, who opposed the Orange Route, said that the news was “sad” and that TDOT hadn’t listened to the voice of the people.

Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe expressed disagreement with TDOT’s decision to continue the Orange Beltway.

“However, perhaps the public consultation process will produce improvements in the project,” Ashe said.

The project is still years from beginning.

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