KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution to support safety improvements to Chapman Highway.
The $45 million project would make intersection improvements, add left turn lanes at some locations, and change driveways connecting to Chapman Highway.
The work would improve safety on a 10 mile stretch of the roadway in Knox, Blount and Sevier Counties. The earliest TDOT said the project could get underway is 2023.
Following the recent death of 22-year-old Pierce Corcoran, Councilmember Stephanie Welch introduced a resolution to show support for TDOT’s project funded through the IMPROVE Act.
"Safety concerns on Chapman Highway, have been brought to my attention the entire time I’ve lived in Knoxville," said Knoxville City Councilwoman Stephanie Welch. "It really is a statement of support from our city council, letting TDOT know how much we support and really encourage the types of safety improvements that are coming forward as a result of this implementation planning process."
The new resolution will show that Knoxville City Council is all in for fixing Chapman Highway, even as others bring up past plans to build new roads.
"We would hate to see this happen to another family. It will absolutely tear a family apart," said DJ Corcoran, whose son Pierce passed away in December in a head-on crash on Chapman Highway. "We feel like the best option is to have the secondary route."
Last week Wendy and DJ Corcoran asked the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization to look at bringing back the once proposed James White Parkway extension.
The extension would have connected Knoxville and Seymour, bypassing Chapman Highway.
Knoxville Mayor Rogero told 10News it would have bypassed the safest part of the roadway. 20 people have died on that six-mile stretch of Chapman Highway since 2005 while 56 have died in the remaining 16 miles.
TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi told 10News in February the department remains “concerned that any improvements we are making/will make will not be sufficient in the years to come” unless the number of cars on the roadway decreases.
Still, both the city and TDOT said the James White Parkway proposal is off the list of potential projects and there is no plan to bring it back.
"It’s not a project that is even on the Improve Act or even on the radar for TDOT," said Welch. "So we’re excited to be able to promote improvements along Chapman Highway as an existing roadway."