Section 1927 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (P.L. 109-59) requires "a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to designate and construct a route for the 3rd Infantry Division Highway," extending from Savannah, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee, by way of Augusta, Georgia.
This technical memorandum recommends Control Points for the 3rd Infantry Division Highway corridors along with supporting justification and the rationale for the recommendations. SAFETEA-LU specified that the route should link Savannah, GA, Augusta, GA, and Knoxville, TN. The Control Points are to be near the cities listed in the legislation, plus other points if warranted. They are defined as the end of a section of highway improvement of independent utility that are near the cities cited in the statute.
While the legislation requires that potential corridors connect the cities identified, the task order for this study included a potential Control Point at Lavonia, Georgia. Lavonia represents another control point that is defined as a section of highway improvement of independent utility but is not near the cities cited in the statute. The intent of this Control Point was to facilitate the development of corridors between the cities noted in the legislation while allowing consideration of corridors which would avoid the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Input from the Expert Working Group (EWG) was considered during the development of the Control Point recommendations.
The project includes coordination with an Expert Working Group (EWG), or a panel of area officials and industry leaders to help guide the project. The EWG serves as a sounding board to weigh technical options, examine issues from multiple perspectives and, by drawing upon its collective experience, help the team solve problems.
The initial meeting with the EWG was held on September 16, 2010, in Atlanta, GA. At the meeting, EWG members provided information and suggestions for the ICF Team to consider in the identification of the project Study Area and the Control Points. The ICF Team used this information along with professional judgment to develop preliminary Control Points and prepare this technical memorandum illustrating the proposed points and explaining the rationale for their selection.
The ICF Team proposed a Draft Initial Study Area Map (See Figure 1) to the EWG at its kick-off meeting. The Draft Initial Study Area included the Control Points as stated in the law and within the scope of work. A number of members of the EWG thought that the Draft Initial Study Area should be expanded in several directions to account for existing interstate routes and to include other areas of influence such as Chattanooga, Cleveland, Atlanta, Greenville and cities further to the east. In other words, it should be less of a "bow-tie" and more of an oval.
Members of the EWG also voiced a preference for following as many existing routes as possible for the study corridors and asked that alternatives within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park be avoided. In terms of Control Points, members of the EWG requested the consideration of a potential connection with the 14th Amendment Corridor Study, the use of a wider stretch of I-85 in the vicinity of Lavonia, and I-20 in the vicinity of Augusta to allow greater flexibility in defining/identifying potential study corridors. Overall, the EWG members favored the use of broader Control Points instead of specific points which could limit the options for potential corridors. Some also expressed concern with any use of the I-40 corridor southeast of Knoxville, TN, due to continuing issues with rock slides and stability problems.
The second meeting of the EWG was held on December 14, 2010, in Atlanta, GA. At the meeting, EWG members provided additional suggestions for the ICF Team to consider in the location of the Control Points in the vicinity of Savannah, Lavonia, and Knoxville. After consideration of their suggestions the project team in consultation with FHWA revised the control points in Knoxville and Savannah. For Knoxville, a broader control point has been added instead of the three distinct points while in Savannah the control point has been moved closer to the port to better serve it. Based upon review of the input of the EWG and in consultation with FHWA, the control points for Augusta and Lavonia were not revised.
The ICF Team considered the above comments in developing a General Study Area Map, revising the Draft Initial Study Area Map, and making its recommendations on the Control Points to be used in the identification of potential highway corridors. In order to develop the General Study Area for consideration, the existing major facilities on either side of the proposed corridor were identified (see Figure 2).
These include about 420 miles of existing roadway to the east, described as follows:
These include approximately 460 miles of existing roadway to the west, described as follows:
These two routes provide an outside boundary for the General Study Area for the current project. As corridors, these two routes will not be studied until Phase 2 of this project, where they may be used as a basis for comparison with the corridors identified in Phase I. Recommendations for activities in Phase 2 of this project will be included as part of the Phase 1 work, including the potential for additional sub-studies.
At the request by members of the EWG in the September 16, 2010 meeting, Figure 2 was modified to include a representative corridor for the 14th Amendment study. No further changes to the study area were recommended as a result of the December 14, 2010 meeting of the EWG. Coordination between the two studies needs to be considered as they share a control point in the vicinity of Augusta, Georgia. The study of the 14th Amendment Highway was authorized by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. The 14th Amendment Highway links Augusta, GA, Macon, GA, Columbus, GA, Montgomery, AL and Natchez, MS.
Figure 2 also includes the general area for Corridor K. Corridor K is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), authorized by Congress in 1965, and intended to provide economic growth to depressed areas.
Within the General Study Area, the Control Points serve as corridor "wickets" through which potential alternatives must pass. The alignments of the alternatives can vary significantly between Control Points, but all alternatives must pass through the Control Points. The choice of Control Points is based on various considerations: stakeholder preferences, the location of economic development activities and major traffic generators, the location of military bases, logical points in accordance with logical termini definition, and others. Control Points may correspond to roadway segments showing independent utility, such as where there is a significant change in traffic volumes.
Three Control Points are identified in the legislation and a fourth is identified in the project scope of work. The project team has reviewed the project area resources, considered the input of the EWG, and recommends that no additional Control Points are necessary within the General Study Area. The following are descriptions of the four recommended Control Points:
Therefore, the recommended Savannah Control Point would be: A connection along I-516 between the US 80/17 interchange and the SR 25 Connector(West Bay Street) Interchange to better serve the key economic resources of Fort Stewart and the Port of Savannah.
Therefore the proposed Augusta Control Point is: A corridor crossing I-520 around Augusta or I-20 from the western edge of Augusta to a point just to the west of Fort Gordon.
I-85 connects Greenville, SC and Atlanta, GA. The proposed eastern edge of this Control Point is outside the eastern limits of Greenville, SC. This Control Point would provide alignments with better connections to Anderson, SC. In defining the western end, the possibility of connecting Athens, GA, while avoiding the Atlanta metro area has been considered. US 441 appears to be a logical north-south roadway that could be used as a connecting corridor.
Therefore the proposed Lavonia Control Point is: Along I-85 from west of the Greenville Bypass to the US 441 Interchange.
Figure 7 shows the established Control Points within the General Study Area, along with other key transportation facilities in the area such as interstates, Corridor K and the 14th Amendment Corridor.
The next step will be to develop a set of potential corridor alternatives that connect these Control Points within the General Study Area. Four alternatives will be developed from Savannah to the Lavonia Control Point (see preliminary corridors for discussion purposes in Figure 8). From the Lavonia Control Point to Knoxville, TN, five corridors will be evaluated (see preliminary corridors for discussion purposes in Figure 9). For each corridor, an upgrade of existing roadways and a new corridor will be evaluated. The EWG at the December 14, 2010 meeting provided input on the illustrative corridors. Their input will be considered by the project team in the development and refinement of the study corridor alignments.