UPDATE: Work to start soon on Highway 64 in Polk Co. - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Work to start soon on Highway 64 in Polk Co.

Posted: Updated:
POLK COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Work has started on the rockfall mitigation project on U.S. 64 in Polk County.


This emergency road project is to repair and re-enforce the area of the most recent rockslide near Maddens Branch at the rockfall fence.  

The area has been down to one lane with temporary traffic signal control since Labor Day weekend.  

TDOT operations crews stabilized the area to safely allow single-lane traffic, but additional work needs to be done to lessen the chance of future slides.  

The low bidder for the project was Wright Brothers Construction Co., Inc. of Charleston, TN with a bid of $497,700.00.  

The project is scheduled to be completed by December 15, 2013.
 
Work on the project will be done while keeping one lane of traffic open for the majority of the time, similar to the current traffic configuration.

They may be some intermittent road closures if necessary for blasting and scaling (knocking down loose material from the slope), but closures will not to exceed 30 minutes and will only be allowed to take place during certain hours.  

The road be will not closed between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; or between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


 

EARLIER STORY:The rock slide along the Ocoee River, that shut down part of Highway 64 in Polk County is still causing some delays. It happened a week ago.   

TDOT officials tell us it's in the same place of major rock slides in 2009 and 2010. Now highway officials are brainstorming for a more long-term fix to the highway that's prone to rock falls.

Highway 64 in Polk County is open, but it's still down to one lane after last week's rock slide and TDOT officials say it will stay this way for awhile.

Cones, signs and temporary lights mark the spot where layers of rocks broke off and came tumbling down last Wednesday.

Dump trucks hauled out what they hope was the last of it, but TDOT officials are still keeping one lane closed, just to be safe.

"That's aggravating. That's really aggravating because when it cuts back to one lane, you have to wait, and it puts the traffic back and it's bad," local driver Brandon Graves said.

Some who drive Highway 64 on a regular basis aren't fans of the delay, while others, including area rafting businesses, are just thankful at least one lane has re-opened.

"This morning I came behind a long line of cars and it cost me maybe 2-3 minutes extra and that's it," local driver Tim Wilson said.

"Slight delay but it doesn't affect our trips hardly at all so we're excited about finishing out the season," Carlo Smith with Adventures Unlimited said.

TDOT officials say this is how it will stay while they try to determine a long-term fix to the road that's prone to rock slides.

"Just the mountains and the type of rock that's there and our geotechnical engineers also let us know rain is our enemy and as you know, we've had a lot of that this year," TDOT Spokesperson Jennifer Flynn said.

This same spot is where a major rock slide happened in November 2009 and then again in January 2010. After that, they installed rock fall fences.

"The rock fall fence behaved exactly like it was supposed to. It caught all the material, but the problem was the rock fall fence and the area behind it was overflowing," Flynn said.

Crews are keeping constant watch to ensure a quick response if more rocks fall in that spot. TDOT headquarters in Nashville has their geotechnical engineers working on a better solution. To avoid that stretch of highway altogether would mean an around two hour detour.

TDOT officials don't have a timeline on when they'll reach a decision on a long term fix.

PREVIOUS STORY | Polk County rock slide still gives residents and officials headaches

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