Right-of-way acquisition for a project to widen Newport Highway (U.S. 321) in Greene County has been put on hold as a result of federal funding cuts.
U.S. Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-11th, of Cosby, provided the update in a news release on Tuesday.
"We have received numerous questions regarding the part of U.S. 321 that goes from Cocke County into Greene County," Faison said.
The project was funded for Right-of-Way (ROW) acquisition in a previous budget, Faison said.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has completed the Environmental Assessment to obtain federal highway funds based on a four-lane roadway divided by a 48-foot median within a minimum of 250-foot right-of-way.
However, Faison said in the news release, the federal government has started "pulling back funding" over the past few years due to the economic downturn.
"As a result of reduced matching federal aid highway funds and increased cost of construction materials, TDOT has not been able to fund and construct a significant number of projects under development," Faison said.
TDOT is now re-evaluating the scope of work proposed for many projects to determine whether lesser-scale improvements can be implemented to address existing safety or traffic operation issues, the news release said.
Longer-term improvements, such as adding lanes, may be deferred to future budget requests.
This initiative, Faison said, is known as the Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) process at TDOT.
Because of these factors, the U.S. 321 project in Greene County, including the right-of-way acquisition, are on hold until the completion and approval of the EPD final report, Faison said in the news release.
The ROW activities will resume following a determination of the ROW needs for both near-term and long-term phases of the project.