Southwest sector density growing

Subdivision homeowners in the southwest sector of Knox County west of the Concord Road-Northshore Drive intersection, many of whom are parents of children and teenagers zoned for Farragut schools, are sounding off about overbearing traffic in the wake of residential expansion.

Jim Campbell, a resident at The Mill at Choto subdivision, said “getting out of our subdivision is getting harder and harder and more dangerous.”

Campbell added Northshore lane expansion “absolutely” should be studied, “there’s no question about it.

“In addition to that, you have bikers who like to ride on Northshore. They are as entitled to that as I am, I understand that. But it is hugely dangerous. … There is no shoulder.”

Keith Sinclair of Cabot Ridge subdivision called out one southwest sector subdivision developer, whose focus is west of Concord Road, building homes beyond what would be required for him to conduct, and pay for, a traffic study.

But he gets around it, Sinclair added, by submitting plans for those new homes in piecemeal fashion, just under the traffic study requirement number.

“Every time, one home under the traffic study limit,” Sinclair said. “He’s in the process of building 148 homes. He’s building it as one project, it’s always been one project.”

John Schoonmaker, Knox County Commissioner representing Fifth District [including town of Farragut and southwest sector region], said about Northshore, “We’ve got to get with the state to get it on their list of priority roads that needs to be improved. The problem with Northshore is, because there’s so much residential traffic and there’s no commercial development, it doesn’t get on the radar screen for TDOT that this is a major thoroughfare.

“But yet the folks who live out that way know it is,” he added.

“… We now have a big problem, too, with the other folks who want to use the road, and those are the cyclist.”

Looking ahead, “what we need to do, I think, immediately is to secure enough right-of-way so on one side of the road we’ve got about a 10- to 12-foot area where we can have maybe 5 feet of pavement for the cyclist, then a grass buffer, then a sidewalk; so the children who live in the subdivisions can actually walk down the sidewalks to use our county parks or walk to the baseball fields or whatever,” Schoon-maker said.

“Most people don’t realize it, but if you start at the Choto Road roundabout and go west to the Loudon County line, look how much dirt has been moved and how many subdivisions are getting ready to go in there,” he added.

Jeff Archer, senior planner for Knoxville-Knox County Metro-politan Planning Commission, said about long-range plans to widen Northshore Road from Pellissippi Parkway west to Loudon County, “the important thing in this [Southwest] Sector Plan identifies that it needs further studying. … At least the short term looking at some of those narrow bridges,” adding they serve as “choke-down points at Northshore” to make traffic more dense.

However, “Right now it’s not a priority as far as studying it,” Archer said.