You may have wondered why former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe was featured at a press conference announcing the death of the Orange Route bypass through Hardin Valley. In 2002 then-Mayor Ashe was battling against the proposed bypass. He made it clear to both gubernatorial campaigns that he would support the candidate who sided with him on the issue, Van Hilleary or Phil Bredesen.
Bredesen said if elected he would start over with a review and re-evaluation of the project, which is political speak for offering to kick the can down the road. We don’t know what private assurances there were, but Ashe and his allies gave Democrat Bredesen their full support against Republican Hilleary. There were other factors involved, like the popularity of Hilleary primary opponent Jim Henry, but Bredesen carried Knox County 57,726 to Hilleary’s 57,683. Former Gov. Don Sundquist carried Knox County in 1994 by 64,828 to Bredesen’s 36,378.
The Orange route has been studied for seven years and in Bredesen’s last year in office it has been declared officially dead.
Better late than never.