As you know, the Federal Highway Administration has begun the long-anticipated study for I-3, and WaysSouth is serving as the only nongovernmental representative to the Expert Working Group that is monitoring the progress of the study. The good news is that there are many obstacles to building this devastating project; the bad news is that no bad idea ever really dies. So, we need your help to put I-3 into a permanent coma.
FHWA has studied four potential corridors for I-3: (A) running southeast to northwest through North Georgia, then north through eastern Tennessee; (B) through Northeast Georgia and southwest North Carolina, finishing on U.S. 129 next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and into Tennessee; (C) through upstate South Carolina and on U.S. 441 through the Park; and (D) following I-26 into Asheville, and then U.S. 25 into Tennessee. (You can find more complete descriptions of these corridors at http://www.wayssouth.org/campaigns/stop-i-3/resources/potential-i3-routes/.)
Right now, the leading candidate corridor for further study appears to be the first, which would go through Athens, Commerce, Dahlonega, Ellijay, and Chatsworth, Georgia, then near Cleveland and Etowah before joining I-75 into Knoxville. Although this route doesnt directly impact North or South Carolina, no area is completely free from the threat of I-3 yet. Whether you live in this corridor or not, please let your position be known.
The FHWAs new website for I-3 (they call it the Third Infantry Division Highway) includes a page dedicated to public input: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/section_1927/3rd_infantry_highway/feedback.cfm. Please go there and let them know that I-3 is unnecessary, wasteful, and destructive, and that you dont want it. More ideas about what you can say are listed at the bottom of this post. The online comment form is limited to 1000 characters, so if you want to say more, please fill out the form, letting them know youll be sending a separate e-mail, and then send your comments to email@example.com.
Thank you for your support of WaysSouth and our mission to preserve and protect the unique heritage and environment of the southern Appalachians by promoting sustainable transportation practices. Thanks also for your commitment to stopping I-3, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Some of the points you can make about I-3 include:
- No one has ever stated any need for a new highway from Savannah to Knoxville, which would actually be longer than existing routes. Until some good reason to build a new highway is identified, we shouldnt be wasting our money studying it.
- We understand that the current study of the steps and estimated funding necessary to build I-3 is required by law and has to be completed, but once its done, any money remaining from the Congressional earmark should be returned to the Treasury so it can go to more useful purposes.
- The required report to Congress shouldnt contain any language that might encourage them to devote any more money or study to this ill-conceived project.
- Any conceivable route from Savannah to Knoxville would have devastating impacts on some of the most precious natural resources in the Southeast, and would permanently destroy the rural character that is one of the primary reasons people love the southern Appalachians.
- In these days of limited budgets, when we cant even afford to maintain the roads and bridges we already have, any thoughts of building more roads and incurring more maintenance obligations are simply insane.
- If we truly want to honor the Third Infantry Division, a better way is to post tribute signs along an existing highway and use the saved money to provide better safety equipment to our soldiers in the field and more support to our veterans.