Toll road proposal for certain parts of E. TN

Knoxville (WVLT) -- If one organization has its way, you could be forced to pay a toll to drive through certain parts of East Tennessee.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more on the toll road proposal.

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization Board voted Wednesday to spend $250,000 in state funds for T-DOT to further analyze if putting in a toll road would pay for itself.

But dozens of concerned citizens say this is a big mistake.

Concerned Hardin Valley citizen David Cochran says, "It's just another way of taxing the citizens."

28 out of 30 citizens voiced some strong opposition of the proposed toll road to the Knoxville Regional TPO.

Concerned Knox County resident Remi Joyeuse says, "I think it's a bad idea for Knoxville. I think it's a bad idea for Tennessee."

The 59 mile toll road would be broken into two legs.

The first would run through Hardin Valley.

Jeff Welch with the TPO says, "The Knoxville Parkway would connect from I-75 north to I-40/75 south. So it would be portions of Anderson County, Knox and Loudon Counties."

The second leg would go through North Knox County, up into Sevier County.

One of the main reasons the TPO wants the toll road comes down to money, or lackthereof.

Welch says, "Revenue for transportation infrastructure is significantly flat over the past several years, while construction costs and asphalt and maintenance costs have increased."

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam says, "Personally, I'm not a fan of toll roads. I think the state has a problem on funding roads, but I don't think a toll road's the way to do it."

Drivers would pay 15 cents a mile for the toll, which means the entire 59 mile route would cost more than eight dollars.

Cochran says, "There's going to have to be toll booths built. There's going to be people staffing them. There's going to be people waiting to pay the tolls."

The TPO is hoping the toll road would ease congestion away from I-40, but some citizens say that's completely counterproductive.

Cochran says, "One of the things that makes East Tennessee a great place is no toll roads, and we're about to take a step backwards in terms of our quality of life."

The TPO says it may take five years before this proposal is even passed.

The results of T-DOT's study should be back to the TPO board in about six months.

The board will then decide whether or not to recommend the toll road to the state legislature.

For a look at the proposed map in detail click on the link below.

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