Talks resume on new interstate linking Augusta-Knoxville

Monday, Aug 23, 2010 9:51 AM
Last updated 9:53 AM
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The Federal Highway Administration is studying a possible new interstate that would connect Savannah and Augusta to Knoxville, Tenn., despite opposition from groups that say the project could destroy pristine lands.

Government spokesman Doug Hecox told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the study of the project, which would be called Interstate 3, started in June, but there's no timeline for the completion.

The administration will use the study as a "resource that would inform discussion," he said.

But, Hecox said, that doesn't necessarily mean the interstate is going to be built. The study will look at routes, costs and impacts on tourism, industry and the environment.

"Its primary function is to determine if a project is feasible," he said.

Executive Director of the Stop I-3 Coalition, Jim Grode, said the interstate would devastate the environment and kill downtown areas as business shifts toward exit ramps.

"This route really serves no legitimate transportation needs," Grode said. "These routes are not going to be quicker or faster."

The proposed interstate stems from legislation introduced in 2004 by then-U.S. Rep. Max Burns, who represented an area of Georgia including Augusta, Savannah and Milledgeville.

Burns legislation sought to connect the two biggest cities in his district — Savannah and Augusta — with a route that would extend into northern Georgia and Tennessee. The route number was chosen to honor the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division's involvement in the Iraq war. The unit is based at Fort Stewart near Savannah.

The highway would connect Savannah, Augusta and Knoxville using existing corridors when possible. Based on that, the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition has mapped out potential routes showing five paths for the superhighway, which would run north of Interstate 85.

The westernmost route runs through Toccoa and Clarkesville before overlapping U.S. Highway 76 to Chatsworth. The route then veers north on U.S. Highway 411 into Tennessee, linking with Interstate 75 at Cleveland.

Eastern routes show I-3 possibly running north along U.S. 441 or state routes 11, 28 and 107 near Walhalla, Ga., before crossing into North Carolina and skirting the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hecox said the study would only show options for the route. If the project moves forward, the states involved would make the final choice, he said.

There is no time frame on the study, but Hecox said he hopes the results would be in by the end of 2011.

Erik Brinke, chairman of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Cherokee County, N.C., Economic Development Commission, said the area needs an interstate, but he's unsure if I-3's north-south route is the solution.

The area really needs an east-west interstate linking Chattanooga; Asheville, N.C.; and all the communities in between, Brinke said. Officials in Tennessee and North Carolina have discussed the route — the so-called Corridor K — for decades.

"Folks in this area are generally opposed to the I-3 corridor," Brinke said. "I just don't have a comfort level that Interstate 3 would accomplish (what another route would), although I admit any interstate through our area would help economically."

___

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AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 08/23/10 - 10:01 am
0
0
I like the idea.

I like the idea.

Riverman1
83552
Points
Riverman1 08/23/10 - 10:07 am
0
0
It's a great idea, but Paul

It's a great idea, but Paul Broun will try to squash it to protect his north Georgia friends.

justthefacts
21702
Points
justthefacts 08/23/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
Is it the best way to spend

Is it the best way to spend taxpayer money now?

chascush
0
Points
chascush 08/23/10 - 10:31 am
0
0
This is BS. Look at the map,

This is BS. Look at the map, you have interstate all the way now.

dichotomy
32743
Points
dichotomy 08/23/10 - 10:37 am
0
0
This would be great for those

This would be great for those headed to the heartland and wanting to connect with I-75 and I-65 north without having to go due west first and fight the Atlanta traffic. Or even worse having to go east first and then go west on I-26 to I-40 in Ashville. I-3 to I-40 in Knoxville to I-65/I-75 would seem to be much quicker than going through Atlanta or over to Columbia. This would be good for Augusta which means it probably won't happen. Augusta is truely one of those "you can't get there from here, you have to go somplace else and start" places.

justthefacts
21702
Points
justthefacts 08/23/10 - 10:38 am
0
0
I would imagine someone owns

I would imagine someone owns some land, ala Carl Sanders, and stands to make a pretty penny. I know, I'm cynical.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 08/23/10 - 10:44 am
0
0
Augusta has suffered due to

Augusta has suffered due to the lack of a North-South Interstate. I can imagine, that to some degree Savannah as suffered as well. Allowing the interstate to connect I-95 to I-40 or even more northernly to I-75 would mostly accomplish may things that the North Georgia and Tennesse citizens are wanting. Finding a route that is aesthic and enviromently sound would be a plus. Look at the design of I-26, especially north of Ashville through Tennesse is a good design and has provide economic benefit to may small communities along the way.

mSeda
8
Points
mSeda 08/23/10 - 10:54 am
0
0
The port in Savannah has the

The port in Savannah has the potential to be one of the largest ports on the Eastern seaboard, except that there is such poor ground infrastructure. The construction I-3 would be an economic boon, not just for Augusta and Savannah, but the entire Southeast. If I-14 from Savannah to Columbus could also be revived, Georgia would have the transportation infrastructure necessary to become the shipping and manufacturing capital of the East. The military benefits also would be enormous. I-3 would provide direct access from Ft. Gordon to the Savannah port and I-14 would do the same for Ft. Benning.

Riverman1
83552
Points
Riverman1 08/23/10 - 10:59 am
0
0
Frankly, with all this

Frankly, with all this stimulus money being thrown around, I'd like to see us get something concrete from it all. It will be interesting to see what Paul Broun does THIS time about I-3.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/23/10 - 11:13 am
0
0
Any interstate connecting

Any interstate connecting Augusta to another city is a good thing for us. I think this is a great idea but it will probably never come to pass.

Remember the outer loop planned for Atlanta? In the end it was just too expensive because development was too far along for the DOT to buy out entire neighborhoods or shopping centers to make it happen. 15 years later they still don't have their outer loop.

Building interstates now is much more complicated & expensive than it was 50 or 60 years ago.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 08/23/10 - 11:32 am
0
0
I-14 was planned to run from

I-14 was planned to run from augusta to columbus using the existing fall line freeway. With state ga state route 21 being widen from hwy 25 outside of millen all the way to I-95 in port wentworth how much work is there to do on this end.

Dixieman
14942
Points
Dixieman 08/23/10 - 11:36 am
0
0
WE NEED THIS. Growth and

WE NEED THIS. Growth and prosperity today occur only where Interstates intersect. We will be at the intersection of I-3 and I-20 and no other city between here and Columbia will have anything like our transportation hub. I'm for I-3!!!

paulwheeler
124
Points
paulwheeler 08/23/10 - 11:44 am
0
1
We don't need a new road, we

We don't need a new road, we need to fix what's existing. That's the infrastructure that needs attention. Improvements and repairs on existing roads would be a much wiser investment, rather than an overly expensive new political toy. We certainly can no longer afford something like this.

Little Lamb
45856
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/10 - 11:46 am
0
0
The other day all you folks

The other day all you folks were gung ho about "rapid rail" to solve transportation deficiencies. Now you're back on the highway bandwagon. Make up your minds, since you won't get both.

cjonesworth
0
Points
cjonesworth 08/23/10 - 11:50 am
0
0
As much as I hate to advocate

As much as I hate to advocate yet another stretch of road covering the land... Dixieman is right. Augusta could see some major growth with an intersecting interstate. I say use the STIMULUS money that was passed under the guise of an emergency that still hasn't been spent.

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 12:06 pm
0
0
Find out what politician and

Find out what politician and his buddies are buying up land which this I- 3
project is going Thurmond , Hollings,and Sanders were the first to know
where I 20 was going..and they made off with millions.aledgely. Someone in politics is in the know....It's not being done just to get to Knoxville faster. and contracts lets not forget about contracts...there is money to be made there also.

MadSnapper
64
Points
MadSnapper 08/23/10 - 12:10 pm
0
0
Please chascush, tell me what

Please chascush, tell me what map you are looking at. I am going to be totally ticked off at myself for not using the interstate between here and Savannah.

dwb619
93184
Points
dwb619 08/23/10 - 12:31 pm
0
0
Find out where Sonny Perdue

Find out where Sonny Perdue owns land, the route will bisect it, ala I-20 thru Stroms narrow strip between Augusta and Columbia. Sometimes being cynical is a direct result of paying attention to political history.

dwb619
93184
Points
dwb619 08/23/10 - 12:32 pm
0
0
Catfish, you beat me to it.

Catfish, you beat me to it. Must be more cynical.

Paintbrush365
12
Points
Paintbrush365 08/23/10 - 12:36 pm
0
0
I'm all for getting from

I'm all for getting from point A to point B as quickly, safetly and easily. But, putting an interstate through western North Carolina will be a major job. One reason the Eisenhower Tunnel was built on I-70 west of Denver is because it's the major east/west route for a great distance. And it carries much more traffic than this road would.

If this highway is called "I-3", it will be the first to violate the numbering standard for all other interstates (odd numbers run north-south, with the highest numbers being near the east coast, e.g. I-95).

Shaky Main
50
Points
Shaky Main 08/23/10 - 12:52 pm
0
0
Looks like the southern leg

Looks like the southern leg of this is nearly done, called the Savannah River Parkway, http://www.dot.state.ga.us/informationcenter/programs/roadimprovement/GR..., connecting Augusta with Savannah. It just hasn't been "Interstated" yet. A direct connection to Knoxville (to hit I-75 to the midwest) from Augusta would be ideal. It's out of the way to go via Atlanta or Columbia. And as for the article's quote "The area really needs an east-west interstate linking Chattanooga; Asheville, N.C.; and all the communities in between...." isn't that what I-40 does?

Riverman1
83552
Points
Riverman1 08/23/10 - 01:01 pm
0
0
LL, I'll take the highway and

LL, I'll take the highway and give the high speed rail to Macon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_3

faithson
5157
Points
faithson 08/23/10 - 01:01 pm
0
0
by the time this would get

by the time this would get built gas will be hovering at 6 dollars a gallon... All that money and resource could go a long way to developing local infra structures for local people.

countyman
20051
Points
countyman 08/23/10 - 01:02 pm
0
0
The rural counties between

The rural counties between AUG and SAV need the growth from the interstates moreso than the cities....

Jenkins County is the number 1 place for the recession.....

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/23/10 - 01:04 pm
0
0
A better idea.. the one Rep

A better idea.. the one Rep Paul Broun supports.. is to build an interstate from Savannah to Augusta (using the existing Sav River Parkway.. just adding interchanges..bringing it to interstate standards) Then at Augusta it would follow I520 north into SC via the Palmetto Parkway)...then create a new interstate using US 25 and hooking up with i26 somewhere around Clinton. By hooking up with I26, Augusta would then have a direct interstate route to Greenville and Spartanburg and Asheville, NC.. and then the existing I40 would take motorists onto Knoxville and up to I75. Most of the infrastructure is already in place for this route.. it would be far cheaper to build, with less environmental impact and would be completed much faster. Building a duplicative north-south interstate bulldozing through the smokeys is not only harmful to the environment, but is unnecessary, considering all we really need to do is fill in the gaps of our existing interstate infrastructure. Just look at a map, and you will see that the route following US 25 and then hooking up with I26 makes the most sense.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 08/23/10 - 01:12 pm
0
0
madsnapper, I misread the

madsnapper, I misread the article, I thought it said Atlanta & Sav.

countyman
20051
Points
countyman 08/23/10 - 01:21 pm
1
0
I think Augusta has more than

I think Augusta has more than enough money going into local infrastructure..... The I-20/520 interchange and Palmetto Pkwy are complete..... Alexander road, Morgan road, and the Saint Sebastian downtown are under construction.. It's time to connect Augusta to other cities besides Atlanta and Columbia....

Silver Bluff rd, Flowing Wells rd, William Few Pkwy, Wrightsboro rd, I-520(Gordon Hwy to Deans Bridge rd), Windsor Spring rd, Hwy 56/Mike Padgett and Old Petersburg/Old Evans rd are going to be widened in 2011-2012.....

Not to mention the numerous repaving projects underway or planned... Martintown road, Reynolds street, Flowing Wells rd, Walton Way, Laney Walker, San Bar Ferry, etc....

The biggest boom would happen in outer South Augusta, Hephzibah, Blythe, Mcbean, Waynesboro, Keysville, etc..... I-3 and I-14 would have to intersect with I-520......

Dixieman
14942
Points
Dixieman 08/23/10 - 01:47 pm
0
0
I never wanted a bus, or

I never wanted a bus, or rapid rail, or monorail, or any other kind of politically correct public transit that is never used (or used only by itinerant psychopaths, smelly drunks and people just released from the Department of Corrections making their way home) and unduly expensive. I like roads for cars!!
Go look at a map of the US Interstate Highway System and major cities. ALL major cities are either (a) ports or (b) located at the intersection of a North-South and East-West interstate highways.

Riverman1
83552
Points
Riverman1 08/23/10 - 01:48 pm
0
0
Emery, the route through

Emery, the route through Greenwood has been discussed a lot and is okay by me if North GA doesn't want it. It would give us a short, direct route to the huge metro Spartanburg, Greenville area. This highway could create a boom like we've never seen. The biggest problem would be getting South Carolina to fund it from the Palmetto Pwky to I-26 near Greenwood.

Riverman1
83552
Points
Riverman1 08/23/10 - 01:57 pm
0
0
This could also be one of the

This could also be one of the cheapest interstates ever built. Modifying the existing parkway to Savannah would be a snap. In Augusta we have 520 to use to hook into. The land from North Augusta to Greenwood and I-26 is flat farmland. NOW is the time to do this.

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