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Public hearings scheduled for State Route 126 project

staff report • Nov 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold two public hearings on Dec. 11 to gather input on the proposed State Route 126 (Memorial Boulevard) project in Sullivan County.

The first hearing will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive.

The second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the Sullivan Central High School gym, 131 Shipley Ferry Road, Blountville.

According to TDOT, the department has made efforts to reduce impacts to the community and environment in response to comments from citizens since the January publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Normally this work is initiated after a public hearing and whenever new technical information is available. TDOT said it delayed previously scheduled public hearings so that ample time could be given to review the public input that was received when the DEIS was published. This also allowed for further time to rework the design of the project. TDOT has incorporated new information in its analysis of roadway designs to minimize impacts. This includes the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s updated traffic model and new traffic counts.

In a press release Thursday, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said the department recognizes community concerns about the potential impacts to the East Lawn Cemetery and to Yancey’s Tavern. “We have made modifications to the roadway design applying the new traffic information that will allow us to avoid grave relocations and impacts to historic property,” Schroer said. “Additionally, the potential impact to numerous residents and businesses has been reduced.”

The proposed modifications will be shared at the Dec. 11 public hearings, in addition to the three alternatives (two build alternatives and the no-build alternative) studied in the DEIS. A panel of TDOT representatives from different divisions will be present to address questions. Right-of-Way Division representatives will also be present to address concerns about possible displacements and relocations.

In addition to continuing technical analyses, community input will be considered when preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

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