The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

April 23 is new deadline of web survey: Advance Knox to hold ‘Priorities Week’ March 27 – April 6

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If you care about growth and transportation in Knox County, attend one of these meetings to share your ideas and express your opinions.

This article was updated on March 27 with first impressions from the March 27 meeting.

KNOXVILLE — Based on previous public input and data analysis, the Advance Knox project team has developed a list of proposed transportation projects that will accompany a future land use plan.

Advance Knox is an effort to define a vision and create a plan that will guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity and quality of life in Knox County for years to come.

This is the first time the County has created an integrated land use and transportation plan, that is billed as having “the potential to be transformative.”

“Bringing land use and transportation components together is what will set this plan up for success,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Our teams are eager to hear community feedback and move toward adopting a final plan.”

Will this plan result in the transformation that you hope for?

Now is the time for you to check that it meets your needs, expectations and wishes. Or, to argue for better solutions by participating in this process.

Priorities Week is the third and final round of Advance Knox community outreach! 

By attending a 90-minute workshop, you can now tell them how you believe the public investment needed to guide the county’s future should be prioritized. 

You may choose from five in-person meeting locations and two virtual session times. “Anyone needing special accommodation for the meetings should contact the mayor’s office at (865) 215-2005 to coordinate,” according to a media release from the office of Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

Monday, March 27

Tuesday, March 28

Wednesday, March 29

Thursday, March 30

Thursday, April 6

Lately, Advance Knox has provided neither much explicit public information on its progress, nor about the format and content of Priorities Week events.

From items recently posted to the Advance Knox website, it appears that they will primarily seek participant input about 150 specific transportation projects, and that at least the in-person meetings might focus more on those projects situated in the part of the county closer to the meeting location. 

You may want to consider attending a second or further meetings if my hypothesis is confirmed at your first meeting, if you have particular interests in more than one quarter of the county, and if there is sufficient opportunity for discussion of individual projects.


Update 2: In fact, projects from all parts of the region get equal consideration at every meeting. Thus, there is little need or reason to attend more than one of the sessions.

No formal discussion is scheduled. None of the individual transportation projects is explained in more detail during the presentation. However, while attendees roam among the stations that display the maps of four rectangular, slightly overlapping sections of Knox County, many members of the Advance Knox contractors team and Knox County staff are present and ready to answer individual questions about particular transportation projects.


To hone your familiarity with the greater context and to focus your thinking about what may be your key issues, you may find it helpful to study the Mayor’s 2022 State of the County Report and the list of 150 transportation projects.

The systematic consideration of transportation in this process is very encouraging. Much of past investment in such projects was driven by traffic exigencies resulting from lack of foresight. Catching up in that fashion tends to cause a period of even more severe traffic troubles. And, that is economically inefficient because one must work around constraints that were created by developments that could have ben anticipated.

I am concerned that picking priorities now is unlikely to have a better outcome, because we have not yet considered in a similar approach public and private plans for development, neither in the cities of Knoxville and Farragut nor in suburban areas of surrounding counties.


I attended the very first in-person meeting, at Cansler Family YMCA. The introduction recapped the Outward Bound, Town and Country and On the Road Again concepts of general development patterns and the 4 Community Types A through D from Choices Week. It also reported how these and the eight Advance Knox planning goals scored among the citizens who participated in Choices Week. Since then, the Advance Knox planning team has refined these concepts and augmented the community types with 10 Placetypes that are more adjusted to variable contexts.

The team also drafted a Preferred Scenario land use map of Knox County, which was used as the background for the transportation projects maps. The projects are conspicuously highlighted and numbered on the section maps. Participating citizen receive 16 voting dots, 4 for each of the 4 maps, to stick them next to their favorite projects on the section's list of transportation projects.

At this first meeting, the vast majority of dots were placed with greenway projects. Very few highway projects got more than one or two dots. Most got none.

The subdued and very busy background of the maps made it difficult to get oriented and to discern what land-use changes are proposed, let alone how that might impact the traffic patterns on those highway projects. From the comments of some who voted to prioritize a highway project, it seemed it was on a route they travel frequently and for which they already feel great discontent, regardless of how future developments may impact it — for the better or worse. Of course, there is no eternal bliss in road projects. As the old adage says, “build better roads and you’ll just end up with that more traffic.” Choosing among greenways, by contrast, is more like going to the candy store.

The major deficiency with this process is that there has been no public engagement opportunity whatsoever in the proposed specific land use changes that the County Commission is supposed to adopt in May. The devil is in the details. Changes at the neighborhood level are often perceived to be the most consequential for present resident’s quality of life.


What policies and measures will be needed to guide future development in the region to accomplish better coordination?

It seem many additional rounds of deliberation will be necessary to come up with a plan that has a grater chance of success than our current Knoxville-Knox County General Plan 2033.


“Advance Knox is a unique opportunity to align land use and transportation goals to create a blueprint for the county’s future. It will help guide decisions about where and how growth occurs and where infrastructure and service investments need to be made in the years to come,” the Mayor’s release states.

Wolf Naegeli, President of the Foundation for Global Sustainability is a member of the
Editorial Board of Hellbender Press and of the
Advance Knox Advisory Council

Previous Hellbender Press coverage of Advance Knox in chronological order

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