Last year, it was proposed that two new interstates be built in Georgia. One, I-3, would run from Knoxville through Augusta and down to Savannah. The other, I-14, would begin at I-3 at Augusta and run west, roughly parallel to I-20 but serving less populated areas. It has further been proposed that I-14 could extend west to Austin, Texas, and east to Myrtle Beach. The routes for these two interstates have apparently not been finalized, but plans seem to be moving along without many problems.
However, there are plenty of people who oppose these new interstates. Most of the websites you can find on the subject point out that Knoxville doesn’t need another interstate and that the construction would cut further into the Smokies. An engineer at UGA in Athens mentions that neither of these interstates would help Athens or UGA, which in his words is “the largest flagship state university in the nation that you can’t get to almost directly by interstate”.
An image of the proposed routes can be found here, though from what I’ve read, this is not a final draft. Lawmakers have until the end of this year to determine the impact of possible routes. Here’s a discussion of the current route debate, including Charlie Norwood’s (US House, R-Georgia) own proposal.
I personally love the idea of being able to get to Knoxville without going through Atlanta, and to hop on an interstate and zip all the way to Savannah or Myrtle Beach. Making Augusta more of a “hub” than it currently is would be fine in my book. I disagree with the Athens engineer that I-14 would be purely government bloat, too; the interstate would open up more of the country for development, taking pressure off the highly strained big cities. However, I am concerned about the environmental impact of tearing up the Smoky Mountains, and the Athens guy does have a point: a direct route from Augusta to Athens is sorely needed.
Ultimately, I hope they’re able to figure out a way to do this that can minimize the damage to the mountains, and it would really be nice if the route could curve through Athens.