SR-475 Beltway Reference Site

Scroll down the page or click a quick link below to view topics.

Environment & Health
TDOT Environmental Impact Statement
TDOT Issues
Planning Links
Toll Road Issues
(Tollway is no longer being considered.)
Context Sensitive Solutions
Moving Truck Freight by Rail

Environmental and Health Issues

ScienceDaily (June 28, 2009) — Environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board have found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought.

In the next few decades, thousands of schools around the country will be built and renovated. Some of the factors that can directly impact the health and well-being of children, staff and the broader community include:
  • potential air, soil and water contamination on school sites;
  • traffic and busing requirements that affect ambient air quality...
[CABOL Note: Pellissippi State, Hardin Valley Elementary and High School are located very closed to proposed Beltway.]

(700 KB PDF)

EPA is currently reviewing the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter, which were last revised in 2006.

Several recent studies have added to the understanding of the effects of chronic exposures to low concentrations of particulate pollution.

This annotated bibliography includes research highlights from studies published between late 2006 to early 2008, as well as several earlier studies that were not considered in the
2006 revisions.

Is the road-building lobby attempting to hijack
the federal stimulus package? Follow the link for comprehensive information.

Select the pollutant, e.g. Particulate Matter (PM), Ozone, etc, then click the "Generate Map" button. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Knoxville ranks #7 in Sprawl


WebMD article on sprawl and health issues.

Knoxville #1 in Asthma

A study from the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America ranks Knoxville in the top 10.

EPA Addresses More Beltway Problems in Letters to Congressman Duncan and TDOT


"Projects that result in air toxics emissions and particulate matter from mobile sources, particularly diesel exhaust, pose heightened concerns for human health. Once the SDEIS is released, our staff will review this document to determine the extent to which it adequately discloses potential air toxics emission impacts and approaches to mitigate these impacts for each alternative, including the proposed "Orange Route." In addition, air quality in the Knoxville area does not meet national standards for fine particulate matter. As a result, TDOT and FHWA must follow an inleragency consultative process that includes review and analysis of project impacts to ensure that new air quality violations are not created."

The East Tennessee Region was found to have one of the highest incidences of low level inversions, and one of the lowest average wind speeds in the country. These facts, combined with the Orange Route's location through a series of valleys, and the high numbers of vehicles and heavy duty diesel trucks expected to use the Orange Route, means that high concentrations of air pollutants will occur and significant impacts to human health will result from the Orange Route parkway project. These impacts have not been accurately quantified by the TDOT using EPA-approved dispersion modeling techniques.

Tennessee Environmental Procedures Manual

(Links to TDOT Website)

The Tennessee Environmental Procedures Manual (TEPM or manual) provides guidance for the preparation of environmental analysis and documentation for federally-funded and state-funded transportation projects. Projects that are funded in whole or in part with federal funds or have major federal actions must follow the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, widely known as NEPA, as well as related federal and state environmental regulations. Certain state-funded transportation projects undertaken by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) or by local governments for TDOT are subject to a state-level environmental evaluation, the Tennessee Environmental Evaluation Report (TEER).

Map Showing Sinkholes and Caves with Beltway Overlay


Map Showing Sinkholes and Caves in all of Tennessee (no Beltway overlay)

640 KB PDF

The proposed Knoxville Parkway (Orange Route) cuts across Karst terrain full of sinkholes and caves. In May of 2007, a huge sinkhole opened up directly under the southbound lanes of SR-162 (Pellissippi Parkway) very close to where the proposed Parkway would run. These maps show the geographic distribution of sinkholes and caves.


Sierra Club: Highway Health Hazards

This report summarizes more than 24 peer-reviewed studies that document health hazards caused by pollution from cars, trucks, and other vehicles. It also describes current debates over major highway projects occurring in more than ten communities around the country.

Heavy-Duty Diesel PM and Toxic Emissions Health Effects at the Watt Road Environmental Laboratory
(950 KB PDF)

DOE sponsored report on air pollution and health impacts at the Watt Road truck stop interchange.

"The Watt Road Environmental Laboratory (WREL) is an active, real-world laboratory devoted to (1) the study of actual in-use emissions of heavy trucks and (2) defining their impact on local air quality and thereby on human health."


This report investigates claims that highway capacity expansion is a cost effective and desirable solution to urban traffic congestion problems. It identifies errors in proponents’ analysis that overestimate the congestion reduction impacts and economic benefits of roadway capacity expansion, overlook negative impacts of induced travel, and ignore more cost effective alternatives.

In 2004, the EPA designated the counties of Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Sevier, and a portion of Cocke within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in non-attainment for ground level ozone.  In  2004 , the EPA designated Anderson , Blount, Knox, Loudon, and a portion of Roane County in non-attainment of the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) standard.

Background on EPA air quality non-attainment.

Chamber's discussion on EPA air quality non-attainment.

Pollution doesn't clear out of our valleys and basins.
Pollution route map

Link to EPA air data site

Cornell article on the impact of forest fragmentation caused by road development and other factors.

Photos of Kingston Pike sprawl

List of endangered and threatend species including Gray and Indiana bats living in Karns.
TDOT Route 475 (Knoxville Regional Parkway) Tennessee Wildlife Issues


Parsons Consultant report on Knoxville Parkway related endangered species and wildlife protection practices.



Moving Truck Freight by Rail

Norfolk Southern proposes $2 billion-plus rail corridor

Norfolk Southern Corp. is proposing a $2 billion-plus rail corridor stretching from Louisiana to New Jersey to capture more cargo being moved by trucks on highways.

The project, called the I-81 Crescent Corridor, would speed cargo shipments while reducing congestion on such highways as Interstate 81 in western Virginia [and Tennessee].

CABOL note: This rail corridor could also reduce truck traffic on I-40 through Knoxville.
Building Capacity for the Future


Norfolk Southern slide presentation that includes information and maps on the Crescent Corridor.
Rail Solutions Website

"...over 46 local governments and regional planning body resolutions [are] calling for a Federal "Steel Interstate" rail pilot project along the I-81 corridor ..."
I-81/I-40 Corridor Feasibility

450 KB PDF

TDOT slide show covering the I-81/I-40 corridor with information about the effects of the proposed Norfolk Southern Crescent Corridor on truck traffic along the route.


TDOT Reccomends Transit Study

TDOT letter to Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization supporting the TPO's proposal to conduct an analysis of transit opportunities at the regional and corridor level.

TDOT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Issues

Link to TDOT DEIS (29.7MB PDF) EPA Letter to Rep. Duncan re DEIS Issues (1.1 MB PDF)
CABOL full response to TDOT DEIS Summary of CABOL response to inadequacy of TDOT DEIS
Glatting comments on DEIS Sulkin comments on DEIS


Thoughtful comments on the Knoxville Beltway and its effects on the community 11/14/03 News-Sentinel editorial.

TDOT Announces Decision on Knoxville Beltway Project 11/13/03.

Letter to citizen states Beltway will not eliminate traffic congestion on I40/I75.

Tennessee State Comptroller's Office highly critical report on TDOT.

Smart growth America ranks Knoxville, TN as #8 in the nation in sprawl based on a number of objective factors.

UT Center for Transportation report on I-475 Knoxville Beltway strays from its objective

TDOT Budget
Tennessee Education Budget

Planning Links

TPO held a series of public workshops in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon and Sevier counties in May and June to gather citizen input for the Mobility Plan.

(CABOL Note: Survey results show new roads are the lowest priority.)

Interstate 40/Interstate 81 (I-40/I-81) Corridor from Bristol to Memphis was identified through the statewide planning effort as a strategic statewide corridor.

(CABOL Note: The Orange Route SR-475 Beltway/Parkway did not make the long range plan cost/benefit cut. Freight/Rail had the best cost/benefit impact.
I-75 Corridor Plan

The I-75 corridor feasibility study presented to the public at public information meetings held in mid-September 2009 by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

TDOT link to Project Library with online PDF and video.

Link to PDF download (3.3 MB)

TN PC 1101 mandated 20 year growth plan for Knoxville, Knox County and Farragut, TN
Sprawl Watch Best Practices The Asphalt Rebellion

Addressing quality of life and transportation decisions
Habitat fragmentation, infrastructure and
ecological engineering

Knox-Farragut Growth Plan Map
Danish Beautiful Highways Handbook
(2.5MB PDF)
Cyburbia Urban Planning Portal
Urban Futures: Tennessee Policies

Toll Road Issues

[CABOL Note: The tollway is no longer being considered by TDOT. The following is provided for informational and historical purposes.]

TDOT Commissioner Nicely: "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.

Proposed SR-475 Tollway Map

TDOT Map of Proposed SR-475 Tollway


TDOT Toll Feasibility Report by WilburSmith Assoc.

1.55 MB PDF

This draft report looks at traffic, potential revenue, costs, and financing concepts for tollways in Tennessee.

State Senator McNally Letter to Burkhalter 6/12/07

104 KB PDF

"The [Tollway] bill, as amended, would only allow the Tennessee Department of Transportation to do a study on two toll road projects. We did receive assurances in committee that one would not be the orange route. In addition, the legislature would have to approve any toll road project."

TDOT's presentation to the Knox Area Chamber Partnership

Online Presentation

Ed Cole of TDOT (Director of Planning and Environment) updates the business community on the Parkway and proposes an option that it be a toll road.

Turning Asphalt Into Gold

Selling the Roads Out From Under Us: Tapped-Out Governments Grab for Cash.

Nov. 2007 Car & Driver Magazine

The city of Chicago, in 2004, really did sell its famed Chicago Skyway Bridge connecting the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Indiana East-West Toll Road. The price was $1.83 billion. Two years later, the state of Indiana sold the Toll Road for $3.85 billion.


"Tennessee Tollway Act"

192 KB PDF

It is the intent of the general assembly to supplement this title by authorizing tolling as an additional and alternative method for funding or financing the development and operation of highways and appurtenant facilities or other transportation-related facilities.

CABOL's Burkhalter Comments on the Toll Road Proposal


"...It's a dangerous and ill-conceived route that traverses four valleys, which according to a nationally recognized expert, will tend to trap vehicular pollution, creating a new corridor of increased cancer, asthma and other adverse risks. In particular, the 11,000 students who attend schools along the Orange Route will be placed in the zone of danger if TDOT gets its way."

Americans for a Strong National Highway Network

Highway Users Form Coalition to Oppose Privatization of Toll Roads

Group Says Government Must Be Held Accountable for Financing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Trucking Associations, in conjunction with the American Automobile Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association today announced the formation of a coalition of highway user groups to combat the growing trend toward the privatization or leasing of existing toll facilities to private investors.

Toll System Feasibility Study Peer Review

(Link to TDOT Website)

As part of the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Toll System Feasibility Study, WilburSmith Associates reviewed toll agencies around the United States to evaluate existing and potential administrative structures for implementing and managing a toll system within the State of Tennessee.

CABOL's Fairstein and Shaw's Questions to TDOT about Tollways, and TDOT's Response

184 KB PDF

"The Tennessee Department of Transportation has been asked to comment on correspondence sent to the Executive Board on May 23rd, 2007, by Mr. John Fairstein regarding potential legislation on toll roads and possible impacts on the proposed SR-475 Knoxville Parkway. I am happy to provide such comments on behalf of the Department. The comments are organized around the five questions asked directly by Mr. Fairstein and the additional eight questions asked by Mr. Robert Shaw as included in Mr. Fairstein's letter."


Context Sensitive Solutions

Building Projects That Build Communities, Recommended Best Practices

Context Sensitive Design Site
Kentucky's Paris Pike

An example of context sensitive highway design.

Knox News Sentinel article about the Beltway Context Sensitive Resource Team


I-475 Beltway Pollution route map
Beaver Creek + Beltway Satellite Map
Aerial Photo of Hardin Valley Aerial photo of Heiskell
Scenic photos of Hardin Valley Hardin Valley community photos