Way back before Tim Burchett (eight years) and before Mike Ragsdale (eight years) we had a county executive named Tommy Schumpert who proposed a north-to-west connector road. Studies indicated Schaad Road was the best route. We won’t even talk about getting the connector over to Halls (perhaps by widening Rifle Range Road). We won’t mention it because the other phases are not yet done.
On a Facebook page called “I Love Karns,” somebody asked how the project is coming. Commissioner Brad Anders posted the latest information from Knox County Engineering & Public Works, and Carolyn Greenwood, who moderates the site, jumped on Anders’ report.
“The priorities here are backwards and seem to have changed from what we were told in 2016 when our sector plan was updated,” she wrote.
Here’s the report from Brad Anders:
“Per your request, below is a detailed schedule of the Schaad Road Project and Karns Connector Phase 2. Please let me know if you have any questions or require additional information.
Schaad Road Phase 2 – Middlebrook Pike to Ball Road
Construction plans completed, all permits obtained, including TDEC, Corp. of Engineers, and CSX.
Fully funded for construction
Schaad Road Phase 3 – Ball Road to Glen Lake Subdivision
Construction plans 90 percent complete, awaiting TDEC, Corp. of Engineers, and CSX permits.
Fully funded for construction
Anticipated plans/permit completed September 2018
Fall 2018 – Both Phase 2 & 3 – Bidding/Award/Notice to Proceed, completed in 24 months (Fall 2020).
Schaad Road Phase 4 – Oak Ridge Highway to Pleasant Ridge
Preliminary Plans completed
Public Hearing to be held Summer 2018
Funded through right of way, construction funding FY 2020-2021
Right of way acquisitions to occur calendar year 2019
Construction to begin calendar year 2020, completed 2022.
Karns Connector Phase 2
Oak Ridge Highway to Westbridge
Construction 90 percent complete, including both bridges and road completed through binder grade. Open to Traffic August 1, 2018.”
Greenwood takes issue with the sequence for construction. Her comments:
“Seems like even though the widening of Schaad Road between Oak Ridge Highway and Pleasant Ridge Rd is one of the most needed improvements for safety reasons and for traffic flow, it keeps getting bumped down the priority list. Now it’s considered Phase 4, after construction from Middlebrook to Ball Road and Ball Road to Glen Lake subdivision???
“The priorities here are backwards and seem to have changed from what we were told in 2016 when our sector plan was updated. Are the decisions about scheduling these projects being made only with the goal of opening up new property for developers and Knox County to make money off them at the expense of the safety and quality of life of the people who already live and/or work and/or shop in this area?
“If this is really the schedule, then development on Schaad Road at Oak Ridge Highway and along Schaad Road, between Oak Ridge Highway and Pleasant Ridge Road, needs to wait until the widening of Schaad Road in this area is complete before starting to develop the land.”
This writer sees an even bigger problem. If Knox County widens Schaad Road like the railroads built the transcontinental rail line, starting from each end, we’ve got to hope the two parts meet in the middle.