Dec 4 2012
09:24 am

Here is a summary of my concerns regarding the JWP DEIS. I hope that others may also contribute their concerns, thus enabling an open discussion of the DEIS.

I use an appreciate the many South Knoxville parks and natural areas including Meade’s Quarry, Ijams Nature Center, William Hastie Natural Area, Forks of the River, Marie Myers, and the greenways. Of the four total options presented in the DEIS, I support the “no build” alternative. My rationale is described below.

1. I am unconvinced that the JWP will not impact Meades Quarry or other cave systems in the area. The Federal Register listing of the Berry Cave salamander (link...) identifies Meade’s and (potentially) Cruze Road cave systems as prime habitat, and the greatest risk as the proposed JWP. Cut-and-fill for this road will produce massive volumes of sediment, and it is possible that sediment could contaminate beautiful Meades Quarry. TDOT has worked with US F&W to perform a dye trace to understand connections between sinkholes in the uplands with Meades Quarry, by committing to a number of remedial actions, and by re-routing.

TDOT’s own dye trace and the infamous Coster Shop dye trace both suggest recharge in the vicinity of the road, and discharge in the vicinity of the French Broad (p. 165). The DEIS, however, strongly states that the dye trace proved NO connection between sinkholes near the proposed roadbed to Meades Quarry (p.111), i.e., the exact location of discharge does not involve Meades Quarry. But, the two primary documents on dye trace and karst (TDOT 2009 a,b) are not publicly available, and TDOT has yet to provide them because of the risk of disclosing sensitive locations. TDOT has agreed to bring the authors and the studies to the public meeting, but if the studies cannot or will not be made available to the public, in my opinion the lack of transparency invalidates the use of their findings for the purpose of the DEIS, i.e., violates the spirit, intent, and possibly the letter of the NEPA process.

Aside from transparency, I wonder if TDOT has overstated the significance of the dye trace. Dye tracing is a technique designed to prove connections, by being input in one location, and observed at another, but it is not a technique capable of DISPROVING connections (Benischke et al. 2007; Quinlan, Ewers, and Field). Water flow through karst systems can change radically with different water table elevations (Göppert and Goldscheider, 2008; Quinlan et al., 1991), and one test is unlikely to be representative of all possible conditions, or even average conditions, over the expected life span of the road or the period of construction (Goldscheider et al., 2007; Quinlan et al., 1991). The critique by Quinlan (1986) further demonstrates how dye tracing should be done carefully and scientifically, because of the risk of misinterpretation or inadequate understanding of the system. The DEIS is completely lacking in acknowledgement of uncertainties of dye tracing in general or this study in particular. In short, the presentation in the DEIS is completely unscientific.

2. With the plans to increase and enhance recreational opportunities, South Knoxville has found its wild and scenic identity, and the resources to develop it! The highway will have negative impacts to South Knoxvillians right to self-determination – a mixed-use, well-connected urban-wildland recreational area.

3. I disagree with the de minimis finding for Hastie park, as the road will likely be visible and audible from much of the park. Now, Hastie is quiet and peaceful. That solitude will be destroyed by JWP.

4. I appreciate that the proposed JWP is limited access, but the access point with Sevierville Pike will suffer from commercial development. Because of the steep slopes and sinkholes, development or road building will require extensive cut and fill, which will greatly increase the footprint, the cost, and the overall impacts. Further, the public may be on the hook for providing expensive and damaging infrastructure for developers.

5. The recent Smart Growth America report ((link...)) details that TDOT has approximately 9 times more projects proposed than funding available. Local opposition, the high cost per mile ($20 million/mile), damage to the connectivity of wildlands and recreational opportunities, and risks to the various cave systems make the JWP an excellent candidate for elimination from TDOT’s workload. For South Knoxville, funds would be better spent improving Chapman Highway.

Benischke, R., Goldscheider, N., and Smart, C. 2007. Tracer techniques. In: Methods in Karst Hydrogeology: IAH: International Contributions to Hydrogeology 26. Goldscheider, N., and Drew, D.P., (Eds.), Taylor and Francis, pp.147-170.

Göppert, N., and Goldscheider, N. 2008. Solute and Colloid Transport in Karst Conduits under Low‐and High‐Flow Conditions. Ground Water, 46(1), 61-68.

Goldscheider, N., Drew, D.P., and S. Worthington. Eds. 2007. Chapter 1, Introduction. In: Methods in Karst Hydrogeology: IAH: International Contributions to Hydrogeology 26. Goldscheider, N., and Drew, D.P., (Eds.), Taylor and Francis, pp. 1-8.

Quinlan, J. F. 1986. DISCUSSION OF “GROUND WATER TRACERS,” by Davis et al. (1985), with Emphasis on Dye-Tracing, Especially in Karst Terranes. Ground Water, 24: 253–259. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1986.tb01004.x

Quinlan, James F., et al. 1991. Recommended administrative/regulatory definition of karst aquifer, principles for classification of carbonate aquifers, practical evaluation of vulnerability of karst aquifers, and determination of optimum sampling frequency at springs. Hydrology, Ecology, Monitoring, and Management of Ground Water in Karst Terranes Conference (3rd. Nashville. Tenn. 1991). JF Quinlan and A. Stanley, Editors. National Ground Water Association. Dublin, Ohio. (link...)


TDOT, 2009a. Tennessee Department of Transportation. Hydrogeologic and Dye Trace Study Report. James White Parkway Extension: Meades Quarry Cave Area, Knox County, Tennessee. September 2009.

TDOT, 2009b. Tennessee Department of Transportation. Geologic Brief on Karst and Caves. Prepared by TDOT Geotechnical Engineering Section for the Agency Field Review Meeting. James White Parkway, Knox County,Tennessee. April 2009.

R. Neal's picture

Nice work. Can I print this

Nice work. Can I print this out and attach it to my comment form?

ma am's picture

Yes, but be sure to mention

Yes, but be sure to mention that you are concerned based on comments from others that bring into question the DEIS findings, or something to that effect.

ADudeFromAroundHere's picture

What's the use then?

If South Knoxville doesn't want to extend the JWP, then why are the rest of the taxpayers in the County supporting a bridge to nowhere? Maybe they should just tear down the existing JWP, or close it so that maintenance costs are not an issue? If enough South Knoxvillians choose to not allow for the expansion of this road, then they should not benefit from the existing highway infrastructure which leads to nowhere. With the current JWP, not-in-my-backyard folks can get quick access to a highway without any benefit to the community. Is that fair to the rest of the community which expands proportionately across all business areas?
Recreational activities in South Knoxville contribute practically nothing to the local economy since they are mostly FREE! How much do you pay to hike a trail or ride your bike? How much sales tax is on that? If we lose the existing JWP, then maybe we could at least get a little compensation from extra gas purchased to drive to these recreational areas.

ma am's picture

This is a discussion about

This is a discussion about the merits and pitfalls of the DEiS and you do not address that. I find the bridge useful in its current location. Making South Konx a nice place to live Does benefit the local economy via making it a nice place to invest in homes and in sales taxes on folks who live in those homes. Anyway your argument that we've spent $ so we should spend more is bunk.

Treehouse's picture

OK, tear it down

I benefit daily from JWP and avoid Chapman Hwy whenever possible. However, I would advocate for the "interstate" from the river to Moody being torn down and replaced with a boulevard-type road that included curves, trees, and places for animals and people to walk, cross, and enjoy. Maybe the neighborhood on both sides could feel connected again. I am annoyed by red lights that aren't synchronized but I would drive Chapman again if we could have our rural area back. And yes, the urban wilderness is bringing positive attention and money to South Knoxville. If you attend the meeting, you will be able to hear some financial statistics and personal and business stories.

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