For immediate release, July 27, 2005

Stop I-3 Coalition also warns of nuclear transport issues

Running an Interstate highway right through the mountains of Southern Appalachia will likely not create the economic benefits that Congressional proponents of this road like to claim – according to the federal government’s own studies.

“Congressmen explain that the proposed Interstate 3 will help us, but the studies suggest the opposite,” said Elizabeth Wells, spokeswoman of the STOP I-3 coalition. The group came together to counter efforts to run an Interstate from Knoxville to Savannah, that inevitably would cut through the mountains.

“We urge all interested officials and citizens to study all I-3-related documents and the STOP I-3 ‘white papers’ that we have produced,” Wells said.

A third white paper completed by coalition researchers also reviewed the likelihood that any such Interstate quickly would become a transshipment route for deadly nuclear material, which now is trucked on Interstate 26 and Interstate 40 between the massive Savannah River Site nuclear complex outside Augusta and the federal nuclear facilities outside Knoxville.


When it comes to economic development, one recent study for the Federal Highway Administration concluded that Interstate highway construction does not guarantee economic development in rural areas, and, in some cases, might work to depress economic growth.
Another study cogently made the argument that metropolitan and “urban spillover areas” are the true beneficiaries of Interstate construction – not the small, rural mountain counties that Congressmen want to burden with I-3.

The studies show “the only thing worse than being a rural county with an Interstate is being a rural county with an Interstate 10 or 20 miles away,” according to Roger Williams, head of the economic impact research committee for the White County chapter of the STOP I-3 coalition, and the author of the economic “white papers.”

John Clarke, author of the nuclear “white paper,” voiced concern over the possibility of Interstate accidents or spills involving such hazardous material as plutonium, tritium and both high-level and low-level nuclear wastes.

“This is additional reason for concern, which must be addressed by the highway proponents,” Wells said.

The STOP I-3 coalition was organized in response to congressional I-3 proposals, on grounds that there are numerous economic, environmental, and safety concerns that urge against running such a huge highway (about three and one third football fields wide right-of-way) through mountain communities that neither want nor need such an Interstate. Locals residents and local chapters have banded together under the STOP I-3 coalition from the following locales: Oconee County, S.C.; Stephens, Habersham, White, Rabun, Towns, Union and Lumpkin counties, Georgia; Jackson, Macon, Clay, Cherokee and Graham counties, North Carolina, as well as residents of the Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee, areas.

Contact: Elizabeth Wells,