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Hill, Sierra Club set to fight Interstate 3

A southeastern port city’s supposed “gateway to the Midwest” — a new Interstate scheduled to run into Knox County — has the local Tennessee Sierra Club chapter running for ammunition to fight the proposal.

Interstate 3, first hatched by Georgia politicians in 2004, is blueprinted to run from the port city of Savannah, Ga. north into North Carolina then over the mountains into Knox County.

The Harvey Broome Group, the local Sierra Club chapter with about 1,700 members according to group membership chair Bob Hill, met Tuesday, June 13, at Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike to lay out the situation during a presentation in front of about 55.

Axel Ringe, the group’s executive committee chair who gave the hour-long presentation, said the motivation for I-3 is twofold: Divert Interstate traffic from Atlanta and bring development to Georgia.

“The way the road system is now, if you’re a trucker from the port of Savannah, you have to go through Atlanta,” Ringe said, adding that corporations also back the proposed Interstate.

“Retailers like Home Depot ... Lowe’s, all these, they have all these stores in the Midwest, this would be their access to the Midwest, would come right through West Knoxville,” Ringe said.

As for increased traffic congestion in Knox County, “Number one, that this road is going to generate increased traffic by virtue of its existence,” he said. “And number two, it’s intended to divert traffic from Atlanta, which now would come up through Chattanooga, and up [I-] Seventy-Five.”

However, Ringe added, “the road as I understand it cannot go through [Tennessee] unless it has the support of [Tennessee Department of Transportation]. If we get T-DOT to oppose the road, so much the better.”

Several routes are under consideration for entry into East Tennessee and Knox County to be decided by a study. One corridor strongly considered according to Ringe would run 1-3 with Highway 129 in Blount County, running north from Monroe County near Highway 411.

Also, citing environmental , economic and “sprawl” concerns, Ringe said U.S. Sen. Bill Frist is one Tennessee politician on board favoring the Interstate, but did not know the official positions of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander or U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Knoxville).

As for Knox County’s collective political reaction, “At least up until right now, the Knoxville metro political area hasn’t figured out what to do about it, or at least hasn’t been willing to bite the necessary bullets to do anything about it,” Ringe said.

Hill, who is also chair of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, pointed to an irony in Georgia’s public


“The promoters of it advocate it because it will do a lot of economic good for the parts of the states through which it runs, but it’s really kinda strange. I think six of the North Georgia counties have gone on record opposing it,” Hill said.

Ringe added, “So far nine counties in Georgia and North Carolina have passed [anti-Interstate 3] resolutions.”

Also referring to I-3 as “The Third Infantry Division Highway,” Ringe said the nickname resulted when Georgia politicians “wanted good roads to link the military bases in Georgia, and honor the Third Infantry Division,” based in Georgia, for its effort during the Iraqi War.


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