More than a dozen interested residents attended a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation public hearing at East Ridge High School on Thursday evening concerning the construction of the new interstate exchange.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has made application to TDEC for a water quality certification permit for stream and wetland alterations related to the widening of the Interstate 75/Interstate 24 exchange.
According to TDEC documents, the widening will affect 11 wetlands and two streams in the area. About nine acres of wetlands will be permanently affected, 2.25 acres will be temporarily impacted, and 580 linear feat of stream will be impacted.
TDOT is proposing it compensate the citizens of the state by purchasing 28.4 wetland bank credits from the Sequatchie Valley Wetland Preserve Area. In addition it would use the Lodi Stream Mitigation Bank to preserve 38.4 feet of stream bank at another site not specifically named.
Initially, engineers and scientists interacted with those in attendance checking out the design of the exchange and the route it will take over land that contains wetlands and streams, including Spring Creek and South Chickamauga Creek. They informally addressed concerns that people may have had.
The second half of the meeting was an opportunity for those in attendance to formally ask questions or make statements about the project on the record.
Kathy Hawes of the Tennessee Clean Water Network said she was concerned about the 530 feet of stream that would be affected. She referred to a “due diligence” document that TDOT generated that would minimize that impact.
“I would like to see that document,” Hawes said.
Olin Ivey said that if wetlands were going to be compromised in the South Chickamauga Creek watershed, he would prefer they be replaced in the same watershed, not in Sequatchie County.
Jane Sharp, who lives in nearby Lansdale Park, said that the meeting answered most if not all the questions she had about the project affecting water quality in her own backyard.
“I feel good about it,” Sharp said. “Not only were my concerns addressed, the organizers did it in a very professional manner.”
TDEC officials explained that the public meeting was an opportunity for residents to ask questions; no answers were given at the meeting. The public has an additional 10 days to submit written questions or comments to TDEC.
Amy Katcher, TDEC’s Chattanooga Regional Director of External Affairs, made it clear that “no decision has been made to approve or deny” the Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit (ARAP).
Questions or comments can be submitted via e-mail to [email protected], or mailed to 312 Rosa Parks Blvd. Division of Water Resources, ATTN Robert Wayne, Nashville, TN. 37243.