Motorists traveling State Route 68 in Rhea County are wondering just when repairs will start to a section of road that is trying to collapse.
Settling problems on the curvy mountain highway between Grandview and Spring City fixed just a year ago are now reappearing a half-mile away in another section that is doing almost the same thing.
“An area of the slope beneath the roadway near log mile 5.5 settled in February because of heavy rains,” Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn told 1057 News today. “This is not the site near log mile 5.0 that was the site of the project that took place from late April to mid-July 2018.”
There has been work done at the current site, but it was some time back.
“This is the site of a previous repair that was done by GeoStabilization International, LLC. several years ago,” Flynn said. “The area that is currently settling and in need of repair is below the slope repairs that were made by GSI.”
Last year, TDOT contractors spent months repairing a major collapse at log mile 5 where the mountain fell away in April 2018, taking one lane of State Route 68 with it. Repairs began immediately and continued into July 2018, when the road had to be completely closed at one point because materials deliveries needed to streamline as construction came to an end.
Now, it’s something of a rerun, although the new settling problems aren’t nearly as severe as last year’s collapse.
“Currently, the roadway at this area is open to one lane and controlled with a signal until we can get the permanent repair project underway,” Flynn said.
The problem is, TDOT contractors are swamped after recent heavy rains dealt out road damage across the state, she said.
Flynn said TDOT wants to reassure motorists that there are no plans to shut down the road, despite worries to the contrary.
“We plan on keeping the roadway open to one lane during the repairs,” she said. “We want to reassure people that we plan to keep one lane open at all times.”
So when will road crews begin their work to repair the section of Highway 68?
The answer is not an exact one.
“Once repair work begins, loose material will be removed from the area and the slope will be stabilized using soil nailing. Soil nailing is an on-site soil reinforcement technique where soil nails are placed into the natural ground at relatively close spacing to increase the strength of the soil mass. As the bars are being drilled, grout is inserted into the hole to ensure that the soil nail stays put. A steel reinforced concrete wall will be constructed that encompasses the soil nails to form a retaining structure along with means to drain water from the slope behind the wall. The upper portion of the retaining structure will be backfilled with new material and the roadway will be rebuilt,” said Flynn.
“I cannot say exactly when we will start with final repairs, but we plan to do the work this year.”