Rep. Cole announces public hearing on Elizabethton Connector

From Staff Reports

   State Rep. Ralph Cole (R-Elizabethton) announced Wednesday that the Tennessee Department of Transportation will conduct a final public hearing for local residents regarding the Elizabethton Connector. The hearing will be held on Oct. 8 from 5 until 7 p.m. in the drill hall of the National Guard Armory, 128 Don Lewis Blvd.
   "A great deal of work has gone into securing funding for this project," Cole said. "It has been a top priority of both mine and our city and county governments, and this hearing is another step toward bringing it closer to fruition."
   The Elizabethton Connector project proposes to construct a four-lane highway from State Route 67 (U.S. Highway 321) to State Route 37 (U.S. Highway 19E) in Elizabethton for 3.9 miles. The hearing will be an "open house" two-hour meeting with no formal presentation.
   The public is invited to ask questions and make comments during the hearing concerning the need for the project and its general location, among other details, according to officials in Nashville.
   Cole said administration officials have stated that the new Gap Creek Road project is also on schedule and that funding to purchase the right-of-way for that project is in the state's budget. The right-of-way purchase will be completed in 2003.
   "Once the right-of-way has been acquired for a new road, it is 99 percent sure that the road will be built," Cole said. "I am pleased to see the project is moving along on schedule."
   Cole said he is also hopeful that, in the distant future, the work he has done to have improvements made to U.S. Highway 359 from Milligan through Okalona to Interstate 181 will result in that highway being updated also.
   Cole believes all of the projects will be an economic boost for Carter County and will result in convenience and safety for citizens.
   "There has been much interest and effort put forth to bring about these projects. When they are completed, it should result in a safer and more accessible road system," he said.