Public influence keeps Knoxville Parkway toll free

| 8/6/2008

A parkway project in Knoxville, TN, will not be built as a toll road, top officials have announced, and public opinion had a lot to do with the decision.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely stated in a letter to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam that a lack of public support for a toll road became clear at a Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization workshop and public hearing in mid-July.

“Support for the tolling option during the TPO workshop was modest at best,” Nicely stated in the letter dated Thursday, July 31.

“Comments at the public hearing were far more opposed to tolling than supportive.”

Click here to read the letter.

Officials had been considering tolling the Knoxville Parkway under a pilot program created in a law signed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen in July 2007. The pilot program allows for one new road and one new bridge to be tolled.

In his letter, Nicely stated the DOT will use tolls to pay for a project only if the public is supportive.

“We simply will not further consider tolling as a funding mechanism for this project, nor for a possible extension of the Parkway on to I-40 East,” Nicely stated in the letter.

County commissions in Knox and Anderson counties had previously approved resolutions opposing a tolled parkway.