Cole promotes extension 357

From Staff Reports

   State Rep. Ralph Cole says that a Sullivan County Commission vote taken Monday should have a positive impact on Carter County and the region.
   The Sullivan panel voted Monday to lend its approval to the construction of an extension to State Route 357, also known as Airport Boulevard. Cole said he has been working to gain approval for the highway for 12 years.
   The proposed highway would run nine miles from the intersection of US Highways 11E and 19E and across Boone Lake before linking with the existing Highway 357, which leads to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.
   "This highway will be of great advantage to the people of Carter County and Sullivan County," said Cole. "It will not only be of convenience in getting people to the airport and other areas, but it should also promote economic development in the region by making it more convenient for shipping and for industrialists to visit the area."
   The commission's vote was divided 14-8, just one vote more than the minimum needed to pass the proposition.
   Cole said that the approval of the Sullivan County Commission has cleared one of the biggest obstacles on the path to construction of the extension, which is estimated to cost as much as $90 million.
   At least two citizens groups voiced their opposition to the proposed extension Monday.
   Members of Citizens for Responsible Roads say that the highway would only create 65 cents worth of benefits for every dollar estimated to complete the project.
   Commissioners in Sullivan County plan to send their recommendations to the Tennessee Department of Transportation before December.