|Published: 8:59 AM, 08/12/2013
||Last updated: 9:00 AM, 08/12/2013
Author: Tommy Millsaps
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
TOMMY MILLSAPS, Editor, &
MARIE MILLSAPS, Correspondent
SWEETWATER-Residents wanting or anyone
dreading the resumption of the Highway 322 project from East
Sweetwater to Highway 72 near Vonore will still have a bit of a wait.
According to the Tennessee Department
of Transportation, it will be at least 2017 before any actual
TDOT Spokesman Mark Nagi said no public
meetings on the project are scheduled anytime soon.
Talk of the project to improve the
highway from Interstate 75 to Vonore began more than 30 years ago. A
three-mile section through Sweetwater was completed 12 years ago from
Highway 11 to near Sunnyside Road. The state has slowly moved forward
with a plan to complete the remaining seven miles to Highway 72.
Environmental studies and engineering work on the project have been
State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir
City, has joined local leaders for years pushing to get the project
done. He said lack of funding for road work has stalled many projects
since the economic downturn.
"We have been in holding pattern," Matlock said of state road projects.
The current proposal is to complete the
final seven miles east in two phases, with the final route from Old
Loudon Road to Highway 72 unknown. Two routes have been proposed for
that final leg of the project. Matlock said to his knowledge, a
choice on the final route to Highway 72 has not been made. Matlock
said it would not surprise him if the least expensive option to
complete is the final route chosen.
Many public officials, including
Sweetwater Mayor Doyle Lowe, see completing the new highway as a way
to spur economic growth. The current narrow and curvy road is
considered dangerous by many, particularly when large trucks are on
Matlock said the snail's pace for the
highway project is not because local leaders have not tried to push
it through the pipeline.
“"We have had our foot on the gas
about has hard as we can go," he said.
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