Rhea County residents say new coal mine will destroy roads
By Jonquil Newland, Weekend Today Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
RHEA COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Mavin Dean moved to her home on State HWY 443 20 years ago. "Oh, so quiet, so quiet. There was nobody out here," she says.
However, time has brought a lot of changes. "Traffic has built up. Before if I saw five or six cars go down the road a day I was doing good. Now I see that many in a few minutes," Dean says.
Within a year that traffic will include dozens of dump trucks from the proposed coal mine just across the street from her home. Dean and her neighbors say its just too dangerous.
"You know the kids getting off the school bus and come down and then the little ones out here playing," Dean says. "There's no shoulders! There's just a two lane road and you know its going to be dangerous."
Residents in Walden Ridge have been so concerned they held a town meeting with the business owner and the county mayor.
"I learned a lot the other night. I learned where the concerns were," says Rhea County Mayor George Thacker.
Thacker says he's taking those concerns to TDOT and is discussing new road plans a new severance tax would fund. "The county will get 50 cents for the schools and a dollar for the roads," Thacker says. "If we get the money we'll put it back into the roads."
"We want to be good neighbors," says business owner David Fortner. Fortner is a partner of Iron Properties and says the roads are adequate for dump trucks to drive on now but he understands it will take maintenance.
"Anything that TDOT decides to do that can improve the roads would be great," Fortner says.
"I know we need the industry, but we don't need the traffic," says Dean.
Another town hall meeting is scheduled for this Thursday at the Walden Ridge Community Center for residents who want to voice their concerns.