JACKSBORO, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – In an email from Campbell County Mayor E.L. Morton on Monday afternoon, the mayor addresses the need and opportunity for acquiring I-75 Smart Fiber which would provide broadband connectivity all along the I-75 Corridor, including and benefiting Campbell County.

The mayor writes:  TDOT is in the process of applying for a grant to install broadband conduit along all of I-75 in Tennessee, something not available when our Broadband plan was written just a few years ago. They completed I-40 and have chosen I-75 as the next objective.  Because we have installed fiber in Elk Valley and fiber is already in Jellico, this I-75 conduit brings the opportunity to make Exit 156 into a viable business location one step closer with fiber from either direction.  The next step is to establish water service from either Jellico or LaFollette.  I ask the Infrastructure and Waterline Committees to investigate the possibility of adding this project under the ARP funding.  This will attract business, revenue and jobs from the 40,000 cars that pass daily, our nearby outdoor attractions and infrastructure.  It is a ready-made business park if we take these steps.  

In an email to Mayor Morton, Amy Kosanovic, the Planning Supervisor Freight & Logistics Division for the State of Tennessee, explains that the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is in the process of submitting a grant proposal to the USDOT for this year’s Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant cycle. The proposal entitled I-75 Smart Fiber, would provide broadband connectivity all along the I-75 Corridor, including and benefiting your area (Campbell County). Would you be willing to write a letter of support for our grant proposal and also to coordinate with other cities, businesses, and the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce to write letters of support? Attached please find a template that you can use for the letter of support. Feel free to take this template, personalize if desired, place the template on your respective letterhead, sign, and email your letter back to me at Amy.Kosanovic@tn.gov.  I would like to receive all letters of support by July 6, 2021. I will accept letters after that date as well but will be consolidating all letters together as part of the wider grant package. The deadline for submission of this grant proposal is July 12, 2021. We appreciate your help and support of TDOT’s pursuit of this grant program.

The mayor submitted his letter on behalf of Campbell County before the day was out on Monday.  “This opportunity integrates unserved K-12 students, 2 new US Scenic Byways, 4 State Parks, The Royal Blue Multi-use Trails (RTP), Norris Lake, an interstate exchange (156) that must have more infrastructure to produce for our county and so much more,” said Mayor E.L. Morton. 

If you would like to submit a letter, here is the template:

July 1, 2021

The Honorable Pete Buttigieg

Secretary of Transportation

United States Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.

Washington, DC 20590

RE: 2021 RAISE Grant Proposal for I-75 Smart Fiber in Tennessee

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We are pleased to have the opportunity to offer this letter of support for the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT’s) 2021 RAISE Grant Proposal for I-75 Smart Fiber in rural Tennessee from Chattanooga to the Kentucky border.  We cannot stress enough how critically important connectivity is to this vital corridor in our state. I-75 Smart Fiber will directly benefit our area in the following ways:

  • Economic Growth – This project would lay the foundation for future public-private partnerships with telecommunications companies that could greatly improve broadband access in numerous economically distressed and at-risk counties within close proximity of fiber optics on I-75 between Chattanooga and the Kentucky border.
  • Safety – Smart infrastructure will decrease serious injury and fatal crashes through real-time alerts such as work zone locations, traffic crash and queue locations, weather alerts, traffic signal information, and support the implementation of advanced technologies specifically designed for vehicular crash avoidance.
  • Racial Equity and Barriers to Opportunity – Smart Fiber does not negatively impact local minority or low-income populations, but in fact creates increased accessibility options through better access to reliable highspeed internet and broadband capabilities, opening up the possibility for wider and higher paying jobs and increased educational possibilities.
  • Innovation – This project will deploy cutting edge connected vehicle technology and other smart infrastructure that will modernize Tennessee’s roadways for current and future vehicles and support future automated trucks and automated passenger vehicles.

We are excited to be a part of this grant program that can advance Tennessee’s national leadership in innovation safety and mobility solutions.  If funded, this project will be in alignment with Governor Bill Lee’s First Executive order to better serve Rural Tennessee by identifying additional opportunities for economic investment growth.     

Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for this opportunity to endorse this project that will provide the needed funding to assist this valuable expansion to our region.


(WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/29/2021-6AM)