By Jonquil Newland, Weekend Today Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
POLK COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) - A crash on U.S. Highway 64 sent one man to the hospital by helicopter Wednesday morning. Crews used the jaws of life to extract him, it took more than three hours. "Thank God he's alive," says Steven Jones with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Officials say the wreck happened when a tanker carrying more than 20 tons of calcine lost control and flipped near mile marker 11 as another truck came around the corner and hit it head on. The stretch of highway where the accident happened has a history of bad wrecks. "This makes number seven that I've worked," Jones says.
However, crashes aren't the only cause for concern. A couple years ago a rock slide shut down the road for five months.
Its the only route that stretches from east to west in Polk County so when it closes you can imagine the delays. "The detour is two hours, the best you can do," Jones says.
"Its ridiculous because you go all the way around Hiwassee River and you come back out on 411 and have to come all the way through Benton to get to Cleveland," says commuter Kim Burger.
Burger lives in the area and has seen multiple accidents on the highway. "We need a new road," she says.
TDOT officials are in the process of planning a new road, Corridor K, which would start near I-75 in Cleveland and end near Dillsboro North Carolina. "Its still working, its still in the workings," says Jones. "This is the main travel route. We need another road and they'll eventually get it."
However, eventually may not be soon enough for these commuters. "There's a lot of accidents on this road," says Burger.