What’s next for Chapman Highway?

Sevierville representative: Millions being left on table
Sep. 30, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

 The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) will vote Oct. 16 to finalize its position to end the James White Parkway extension.

While that may seem to be of little concern to Sevier County, such thinking couldn’t be more wrong, according to State Representative Dale Carr (R-Sevierville).

Carr said Friday that connected to the James White Parkway extension are millions of dollars in possible improvements to Chapman Highway — one of Sevier County’s most notoriously dangerous roadways.

Carr said with an 80/20 matching deal, the state would have only been responsible for around $12 million of a $60 million improvement to Chapman Highway, but without the James White Parkway extension, those funds will be unavailable.

 “(And) it would be hard for the state to come up and give us $60 million just for Chapman,” Carr said.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters, who has a seat at the TPO table because of the area of Seymour covered by the organziation, said Wednesday that without the James White Parkway project happening, there is little that will be done for Chapman Highway.

“What I understand about the whole deal right now is ... the (James White project) was a $100 million project, and there is a limited amount of improvements that the state can do to Chapman Highway without that extension,” he said. “But I understand from several sources they’re looking at what improvements they can do without the parkway extension.”

While Waters said he’s not sure of any specific improvements that have been offered as a standalone Chapman Highway project, there is one safety issue on the highway that could be cleared up soon.

“There is a turn lane (installation project) that goes from the old French’s Market to the red light at Kroger; that right of way and engineering is close to moving forward,” Waters said, referring to the section of road between the Chapman/Highway 411 intersection and the Kroger grocery store in Seymour. 

“That’s a committed project that’s been on the drawing board for a number of years and it looks like it’s moving forward.”