Partnering Agencies Critical to the TPO Success

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) works closely with a variety of partners, from elected officials to non-profit organizations to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Their participation in the TPO helps inform the agency on issues and priorities in surrounding counties, with representatives voicing the diverse perspectives of communities throughout our region.

The TPO’s jurisdiction has grown through the years to cover Knox County and the urbanized areas of Blount, Loudon, and Sevier Counties. The TPO Planning Area also includes Anderson, Jefferson, and a portion of Cocke Counties. In order to effectively plan for this large, diverse region, TPO staff work with members of the Executive Board and Technical Committee. The Technical Committee is made up of planners, engineers, and representatives of the region, and the Executive Board is made up of elected officials from both the cities and counties represented by the TPO. Though this committee structure may seem complicated, it is necessary to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and for federal funds to be awarded for transportation projects. In the past year, there have been several staff changes in some of our partnering agencies, giving us a good excuse to highlight the importance of their roles in the TPO.

Earlier this year, TDOT’s Region 1 Office of Community Transportation (OCT) gained two new Community Planning Specialists when they hired Trey Joiner and Michelle Bradburn. Trey joined TDOT after a year with the CAC AmeriCorps as Knox County’s Parks and Recreations Assistant Coordinator, and Bradburn joined after a year-long internship at the Kingsport Metropolitan Planning Organization. They both work with TDOT’s local jurisdictions to strengthen state and local partnerships and to collaborate on transportation decisions that best reflect the needs of local jurisdictions. Because TDOT provides the majority of the funding for transportation projects in our region, it is important that the OCT and other TDOT staff participate in the TPO planning process.

Another staff change this year occurred when Pat Phillips retired from the Loudon County Economic Development Agency after 36 years of service. Jack Qualls, previously one of TDOT’s Region 1 OCT community transportation planners, was hired as the new director. He gained valuable experience at TDOT by working with communities on transportation infrastructure projects and their impact on economic development.

Phillips has continued working part-time to help Qualls transition into his new role. He also has been appointed by Mayor Madeline Rogero to serve on the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission. (The TPO is a division of the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission, an agency that is responsible for comprehensive county-wide planning and administration of zoning and land subdivision regulations. MPC has a staff of 35, and the Planning Commission, which is made up of 15 citizens who volunteer for four-year terms, serve as an advisory board.) From his experience with the TPO, Loudon County Economic Development Agency, various other community groups, and his Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Phillips brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Commission. 

The TPO appreciates our relationships with regional partners whose input is critical in the work we do!