The Tennessee Department of Transportation is exploring a new tunnel option as part of the current studies of U.S. Highway 64 in Polk County from west of the Ocoee River to State Route 68 near Ducktown, Tennessee.

The project, known as Corridor K, is now in the environmental study phase, and according to a TDOT news release, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is being prepared as part of the federal requirements.  

That report will provide information about the purpose and need for the project, and will contain proposed plans, potential environmental, social, and economic effects of the project.

Also included will be detailed descriptions of each of the alternatives and the potential impacts.

Originally, five build alternatives and a no-build option were identified to be studied in detail in the DEIS. 

TDOT officials have determined that a new tunnel option should be considered as a design possibility.  

The new tunnel option would be primarily located near the Ocoee Gorge area.

The tunnel would be about six miles long and extend between State Route 30 (also known as Greasy Creek Road) and Ocoee Powerhouse No. 3 as a single tunnel or a series of shorter tunnels.

“It is extremely important to provide a safe and reliable transportation option to the residents of Polk County and all the users of Corridor K,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “We want to be sure that we look closely at every possible solution to the challenges we face in this area.”

 TDOT says that additional studies will be necessary to determine the possible environmental impact.

 The project could be approved by the Federal Highway Administration by winter of 2016.