What is the Green Route? Think Orange Route (a highway that is a toll-road designed for big trucks) but going through a more densely populated, more rugged area in east Knox Co and Sevier Co. It makes the orange route into a genuine beltway around Knoxville.

Think of that nice whining sound that truck wheels make when they barrel down the road at 70 mph. Now think of that sound...in your back yard!

Judging by the route proposed

the following communities should start organizing unless they want to be paved over:

Cedar Grove
Copper Ridge
Beech Grove
Stokes Mill
Strawberry Plains
Four Points
Pleasant Grove

What to do?
As a first step you could contact your state reps and senators:
Call, write letters, email.

Tell them that study after study has shown that roads induce traffic and create sprawl. Other cities have realized this and are not building new beltways. For example Nashville is NOT building 840 north. Why?
According to TDOT itself: "Because the majority of the plan did not appear to meet a documented transportation need and lacked meaningful participation from local planners, we are putting 840 North on indefinite hold..."

So,where is the documented transportation need for the Green Route?

Here is some excellent information from the folks trying to stop the Orange Route.

My personal favorite link from the nobeltway site: Knoxville #1 in Asthma! More roads = more traffic = more pollution = more Asthma = more people who decide not to move here = less economic growth = higher tax burdens

Speaking to the broader issues of roads, traffic and sprawl:

Here are some newspaper articles on the connection between sprawl and new or widened roads:

Here is the wikipedia article on "induced demand"

Here is an exerpt from a book on sprawl

Here is a pretty heavy economics paper on the subject of "induced demand" that demonstrates the connection between road building/widening and increased traffic:

Here is a "roadgeek" website on Nashville's route 840, it also has info on the "Green route"

Who do you contact?
Depending on where in this area you live your rep could be :

Harry Brooks:19th district

Joe Armstrong:15th district

Bill Dunn:16th district

Frank Nicely: 17th district

Your state senator is
Jamie Woodson

I suggest making your opinion known to all of these officials wether or not you live in their districts. We are all footing the bill for this. If you don't live in the area proposed for paving, contact your representative also.

MPC should also be hear from you. TDOT's reason for not doing 840 north also mentioned lack of participation from local planners. Let ours know that we do NOT want them participating with TDOT either!

This is probably the short list of who to contact.

Jeff Welch
Transportation Planning
Organization (TPO) Director

Katie Habgood
Public Involvement, Smart Fix 40,
Corridor Studies

Mark Donaldson
Executive Director

Folks, lets get busy and beat this thing before TDOT can ram it down our throats!


djuggler's picture

Looks like someone is

Looks like someone is hearing the cha-ching sound of change dropping into a toll bucket.

So, who stands to make money by owning property at the proposed exchanges? Exchanges = gas stations, fast food, etc.

Who stands to make money off the construction and management of the toll plazas?

Are the green and orange routes serving true transportation needs or just the pocket books of the landowners, construction companies, and however toll plaza management works?

Why are we not doing something smarter like creating transportation hubs and distribution centers where trucks are loaded onto trains with routes built along pre-existing corridors? Freight should be sent by train to distribution centers for the majority of its travel then from the distribution center to destination by truck.

Doug McCaughan

sugarfatpie's picture

Corruption at TDOT driving toll roads in TN

Probably the most rich and powerful group that stands to make money from the Green Route is, surprise surprise, the road building contractors and engineers. Here's an article on corruption in TDOT. TDOT commissioner Niceley's former chief of staff is now a toll-road lobbyist working (quite successfully) to get contracts for engineering giant CTE-AECOM. Unlike construction contractors, engineers do not have to go through a bidding process for getting work from TDOT.

djuggler :
Good point about those interchanges. Time to take a look at KGIS.

Regarding the need for truck-rail links, there is just this sort of facility (called a "multi-modal" facility) planned for somewhere between Knoxville and Bristol, probably in Greenville if a local developer/location opportunist named Victor Jernigan is correct in his guestimation.


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

RayCapps's picture

Intermodal Link exists...

They're small, but Burkhart out at Forks of the River handles Rail, Truck, and even Barge transfers. They can also facilitate cross docking.

Nelle's picture

Contacting planners is fine

... but it's political leaders who make the decisions.

You can confirm that by looking at all the plans that get ignored when development and road-building decisions are made.

In addition to state legislators, contact your local political leaders too: county commissioners and mayors.

Anonymous's picture

What has taken you so long?

The folks impacted by the Orange Route have been fighting this for 11 and a half years. We tried to tell everyone that it was part of a grand plan to circumvent the county. Nobody listened. It is a little late for others to wake up now because it is about as done as deal as it can be. While the east county side has been silent, TDOT, the Roadbuilders, the Chamber Partnership, big money interests, and the TPO have been gleefully selling out the public. Grab your ankles because it will be coming your way soon. Welcome to the he## that the Hardin Valley folks have been living. We've been contacting the officials and representatives for years. Hasn't stopped it yet. And where were you guys at the toll road meeting last night?

sugarfatpie's picture

Ignorance I suppose.

I only recently became aware of a green route.
Nobody here posted about it, and I didn't see anything written anywhere else. A friend tipped me off just the other day.Your implication that I am only concerned about this now because its coming my way is wrong. I don't live in east knox county, don't really have many friends there, nor do I own land anywhere near the proposed route.

I can understand your frustration, but maybe we could redirect that into a discussion of strategies that might work better to stop the green route.

I can also see why you might think the Green Route is a done deal, but look at Nashville's 840. They built the southern half, but not the northern half. Why? Well they said there was no need, but maybe there's more to that story. How did that deal come undone? Lets find out.


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Linda "Snuffy" Smith's picture

Been there the whole time

I've been at the meetings and sending comments since 1997 speaking out against
the segmentation approach of the "proposed" beltway. For 11 and a half years I've tried
to organize the Eastern corridor, but the sad fact is that when you cannot provide any
official information, the citizens are happy to continue to burrow their heads in the sand.
At the recent TPO meeting, because Nicely and Cole left early before I stood up to
give my Eastern corridor spiel, my comments were totally ignored. It hurt. Fortunately,
one of the Hardin Valley fighters emailed me the link to this wonderful blog where I
finally saw the long-awaited map showing the Eastern corridor.
I'm currently drafting a petition to the governor and the legislature with the hope of
finally bringing the citizens from the Eastern corridor to the table. Please contact me.

Linda "Snuffy" Smith
Cell: 865-556-7374
Email: Linda@SnuffySmithRealtor.com

sugarfatpie's picture


Hi Linda,
I think the eastern corridor clearly needs a wake-up call.
Sorry to hear about your experience at the meeting.
Maybe you could post your petition here to help get the news out, get feedback from the community?


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Linda "Snuffy" Smith's picture

Petition coming soon - ruminate on this in the meantime

Note that this week Commissioner Nicely removed the beltway project,
including the eastern segment, from consideration as a toll road.
However, "...work will continue as scheduled on a supplement to a
draft environmental impact statement for the western portion of the
parkway." (Tuesday, August 5, 2008 front page article in the Knoxville

To this we must all say, "no more piecemeal - it's back to the drawing board,"
or better yet, "postponed indefinitely," as is Nashville's 840-North.

Please consider the following comments presented to TDOT by a concerned
citizen (name withheld) in response to the DEIS, Feb, 2002
(6 and a half years ago, when the project was already 5 years old)

"regarding Chapter 1, page 1-19:

The Draft EIS states that this segment of the beltway is a portion of a
beltway that is envisioned to extend to I-40 east of Knoxville in the future. 
Thus, the document admits that this review is piecemeal to an overall project. 
As a result, the Draft EIS does not meet the requirements of 40 CFR 1502.4 which
requires that the proposal scope be properly defined in accordance with the
criteria established in 40 CFR 1508.25.  Specifically, connected actions,
cumulative actions, and similar actions trigger the requirement that “proposals
or parts of proposals which are related to each other closely enough to be,
in effect, a single course of action shall be evaluated in a single impact
statement.”  Continuation of a beltway around the Knoxville metropolitan area
will undoubtedly require additional environmental impact statements, and the
present segment is an interdependent part of a larger action.  Therefore, the
true scope of the project must be declared, the Draft EIS rewritten to address
cumulative impacts, and issued again for public review."

Anonymous's picture

It's been a long fight

... and we are getting mighty tired of it. The Hardin Valley folks are the ones that have been fighting and everyone else has been sitting on the sidelines. There has been press and meetings about it for years and years, so I don't know why you haven't heard about it before. See the info on the nobeltway web site. The Orange Route was been "selected" several years ago, and the dotted line for leg #2 was changed immediately to a solid line.

Fortunately, we've been able to slow it down and the costs have been rising. But TDOT's idea now is to bypass Federal dollars (NEPA would no longer apply, how convenient!) and get toll dollars to pay for it. In fact, the leg #1 is to help pay for leg #2 and #3.

840 has been slowed down because of funding issues (Federal dollars are drying up) and also very costly lawsuits. TDOT has more money (our money) than we do for lawyers, BTW. I don't know about you, but most people are trying to pay for mortgages, gas, groceries, etc.

sugarfatpie's picture

Divide and Rule

Trying to see past the negativity here.
If the reports from the meeting are to be believed then public opposition to a toll road may hold some weight at TDOT.
So if they don't get federal dollars, and they don't get toll money, how will they pay?
If lawsuits and absent federal dollars helped stop 840N, then these factors might help further delay the Orange Rt.

As for my ignorance of the whole project, it was the GREEN route that I just caught wind of, not the ORANGE route. If I didn't know better, I might think you were discouraging any further interest in the issue. An age-old tactic that the state uses against citizen-activists or any other pressure group is to frustrate them until they start to turn on each other. Divide and rule.

It might also help to look at the structural issues that allow TDOT to play so fast and loose with our money, otherwise we fight the same battles every time. How come engineering firms don't have a bidding process? Why are former employees allowed to lobby TDOT at all? Is there a better model for a state level transportation agency? Maybe from another state?


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Anonymous's picture

You had better join the fight now!!!!!

The orange route was supposed to cost $237 million when it was selected as the approved route. After psotponing it's start for 11 1/2 years, the cost is now ~$1 BILLION dollars. This road was supposed to be completed in 2005. We now have the unique opportunity to look at the numbers that they used to justify this project. The numbers for the projected traffic count in 2005 with the beltway completed and diverting traffic from I40/75 more than the traffic count that the TPO did in 2007 and no beltway has been built. The numbers are so far off it is laughable and no body that can so something about the bogus numbers seem to even care.

The numbers used for the justification of the beltway were supplied to TDOT by the Knoxville Chamber Partnership and their transportation committee headed by Wes Stowers. Yea, the one that owns Stowers Equipment company and is on the Board for Directors of the Tennessee Road Builders Association. Is there something rotten about that or what? Now the head of the Chambers transportation committee that is really pushing this project now, is the owner of Tennessee Asphalt. Wonder what they use asphalt for in massive quantities??? Oh, by the way, the Partnership that is pushing this road down all of our throats gets $400,000 form the taxpayers of Knox County thanks to Ragsdales budget. Other groups get nothing and the Chamber Partnership gets $400,000. What a deal. Think that the taxpayers are getting their money's worth??
Oh yea, TDOT on their map doesn't call your leg of the parkway "proposed" any more. It's coming so you better get with the program and write your legislators and put pressure on them to fight TDOT and their tolling scheme. If they don't stop TDOT in the Legislature, you will get the road and TDOT will put tolls on everything they do from now on. And people don't seem to understand or care. Get going and fighting, you have a lot of catching up to do and not much time

sugarfatpie's picture

Now thats what I'm talking about!

Great post!
Great information!
Great outrage!

As for joining the fight, I see the information just elicited from you as a minor victory. When we share our information with each other, we get stronger. When we get all pissed and stop raising hell, we loose.

Thanks so much.

PS-Anyone see a juicy newspaper article in this? Corruption, millions wasted, locals outraged?


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

jbr's picture

The same Wes Stowers

The same Wes Stowers Ragsdale appointed earlier this year as an MPC Commissioner.


Anonymous's picture

address for comments to TDOT on toll roads in TN

Well, everyone get off your comfortable couches, put down the beer (beer tax goes to TDOT's road fund, BTW), and start the letter campaign. Demand that there be NO TOLL ROADS IN TENNESSEE!!!!!!!!

If they get toll roads, this beltway will be wrapping around the county (per the map) because TDOT will get the money to do it all. Got the concept????

Comments are due 21 days from 7-18-08

Project Description: Statewide Tolling Meeting - Knoxville

Tennessee Department of Transportation
Project Comments
505 Deaderick Street
Suite 700, James K. Polk Building
Nashville, TN 37243-0332

e-mail address: TDOT.comments@state.tn.us

djuggler's picture

Route to encourage sprawl

I've just spent a few minutes staring at the proposed map to figure out who or why the green route would be used.

I am not going to use it. I have a hard time understanding why a trucker would pay to take a longer route around the city rather than going straight through for free. The it dawned on me that the map appears to represent population density as well. Am I wrong? The map shows where business and housing has formed densely around I-40 and I-75. Look at 441, 129 and 61. Now look at the proposed route. It basically bisects the population density between Knoxville and Oak Ridge and skirts the eastern edge of the population density of Knoxville.

Who will use this? Ah! The people who move into the sprawl that is destined to develop around the interchanges and the route itself. The green route is a symbiote! Without the road would that sprawl happen? And without that sprawl, are we missing economic development opportunity? We want Knoxville to resemble Los Angeles or Dallas don't we?

Doug McCaughan

gonzone's picture

Great post

Thanks for the great post and the excellent comments!

Just imagine the quality of great light rail that could built for the 9 county region using that kind of money. This route, as is typical for much road construction, reinforces my belief that the "population density" argument is bogus. Population density follows transportation construction rather than leading it. In other words, for light rail, if we build it, they will come. Some rezoning around rail stations to allow high density residences and small commercial properties would be the only catalyst necessary once the station locations were known.

We've got to get our heads out of the past and look to a future where transportation changes dramatically. The current system of trucks, giant highways, sprawl, and fossil fuel consumption is unsustainable! It's time to build the future today, no excuses.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

darnright's picture

Amen. Anyone that's been

Amen. Anyone that's been over the mountains to Charlotte recently can see this for themselves. Literally billions are being invested in new properties with access to or in close proximity of the blue line. I'd like to see this money spent on something that will help solve our transit problems rather than prolong them. But for all I know, there's no available space for a line thanks to all the massive parking lots.


Hayduke's picture

Peak miles

Total miles driven in the US leveled off two years ago and it's started dropping (and faster in Tennessee than in the country as a whole). We don't need any more roads.

sugarfatpie's picture

Clearly we need more sprawl.

We're already the lowest residential density city in the country.
What we really need, thinking long term now, is another West Knoxville. Man we could have Krystals, and Chuck-ee-cheezes from Dumplin Creek to Clinton! That kind of vision could really give this place a boost. Something thats never been done before! Something to inspire our children in this time of global crisis. A new way to attract people to our fair city!

We don't need any nice little green hollers nearby where you can see the stars and hear yourself think. Naw, thats for rednecks. We need GROWTH! We need jobs for all our University Twits and their cousins Daryl and Daryl. Smart, burger flipping, grocery bagging, lawn mowing type jobs. Screw all those vacant lots and brown-fields we already have roads going to. That's not thinking strategically. We need to look to the future.

The Orange/Green Route Beltway is a big turd necklace for knox county to enjoy for years to come. Years in which we will continue to bleed .5 billion a year for infrastructure maintenance while we quibble over P-cards.

Yeah, its great for the local economy. Get rid of all those ugly old creeks and streams. Sock em in a culvert and spread out big slabs of toxic asphalt on top of them for us to speed down, car-farting our atmosphere just a few degrees hotter.

Its visionary, this road building thing. People gotta move move move, and fast, fast fast. How can I invest? Oh, you say the head of the head of the road-builders association and an asphalt magnate already have the deal sown up? Well shucks, I guess I'll go to Chattanooga.


"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

yellowdog's picture

I am active in Citizens

I am active in Citizens Against the Pellissippi Parkway Extension (CAPPE) in Blount County, where we have for seven years now held off this particular sprawl-maker through a lot of organizing, fund-raising, and legal action. We could rightly be accused of waking up late (after completion of a section built from US 129 to SR 33 without federal money and thus without NEPA requirements for an Environmental Impact Statement), but we did wake up. For some detail, see the CAPPE website: (link...)

It was clear when the "development" of Exit 407, complete with a Sevier County instance of mountaintop removal, of I40 began (at SR 66 toward Sevierville) that there would be an effort to extend the Orange Route eastward. Having the proposed route map should be of great use for people wanting to organize against the Green Route. But the challenge is huge and many people will have to dedicate a lot of their lives to the organizing that will be required to confront this. And it cannot be done primarily by blogging. After all, the TN Roadbuilders Assn. accused us of being eco-terrorists.

The Pavers are having trouble, though, as highway funds are disappearing as people drive less and less gas tax money flows into the national paving fund. As others have pointed out, that is exactly why toll roads suddenly are on the Pavers' agenda.

The Raven Society, a Blount County PAC dedicated to the preservation of the county's rural, small town, and historic nature, has helped CAPPE; see website at (link...) and then link to TRS' analysis of the PPE. Other groups concerned about the effect of sprawl on schools and the tax rate also are involved.

jbr's picture

Nearly 10 Billion Fewer Miles Driven in May 2008 than May 2007

What this tells me is less money needs to be spent on new roads. If people are driving less why would that not lead to less need for building?

The USDOT news release

Also, the new Transportation Energy Data Book was released June 30. It is viewable online and created at ORNL. Some interesting information.


I would think a good source of new job creation would be in rail development and other adaptions to the changing needs of transportation mechanisms. The road builders will fight the loss of some limbs from their money tree to railroad construction. But as Greg Lambert likes to say "things change."

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