Leland Johnson said his wife's family has lived near Concord Road and Northshore Drive since the 1850s.

"The family farm used to be all the way down the Tennessee River Valley," Johnson said. "Little by little it's been whittled away over the years."

Over the years, he and his family have watched construction projects come and go, but TDOT's Concord Road widening project is something he now has his eye on.

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"Near the project is an over 100-foot tall tree and it's history," Johnson said.

In an effort to save the tree he made a call to Trees Knoxville for help.

"I called and asked for someone to come and to figure out if it is a champion tree," he said.

Tom Welborn is the chair for Trees Knoxville and took measurements of the tree back in November 2017.

"I went out to get measure it and found it was, in fact, a champion tree," Welborn said.

A champion tree is a tree that is the biggest of its species in a given area or region.

"There's nothing that we have that can duplicate that kind of history," Welborn said.

In a statement, TDOT's Community Relations Officer Mark Nagi said the property in question is considered condemned.

"The property owner will be compensated for the loss of their property. Unfortunately, the tree in question is in an area where a bridge will be built," Nagi said.

Johnson said he understands the construction and why it is being done. 

He just wishes it could happen without cutting down the tree.

"It just seems silly to be taken out to install a greenway," Johnson said.

He plans to meet with contractors on Thursday to see if he can do anything else to make it happen. 

In the meantime, he's just hoping the tree can be saved.

"So that we can work around it and preserve the tree and its heritage," Johnson said.

TDOT is aiming to finish the Concord Road widening project by Oct. 31, 2020.