Drought leads to rest area closures in Grundy County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Drought leads to rest area closures in Grundy County

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The drought has led to wildfires and some water restrictions across the area, but the dry conditions are also affecting rest areas in Grundy County.

They are closed on each side of the interstate, which could be inconvenient for drivers. However, businesses in Monteagle hope it could bring more people into town.

Valarie Phipps, who works at The Smoke House, has seen signs on the interstate that say the rest areas are closed because of a water shortage.

"I mean if it's a water shortage and it's affecting the rest of the town. It's probably a good thing they are shut down," Phipps said.

TDOT maintains the rest areas, which use water from the city of Monteagle. The facilities use more than 3,000 gallons of water a day.

City officials are concerned about their water supply, so they asked TDOT to close them for now. A similar situation happened nine years ago.

"This is not the first time we've had to do this, but we've got to be mindful and make sure the citizens of Monteagle have their water needs taken care of," Jennifer Flynn with TDOT said.

The rest areas were shut down for about three months in 2007 because of another drought. Some drivers said they're not happy.

"My tax dollars are supposed to keep it open. People need to pull over, rest, that's the whole purpose behind a rest stop," Debbie Rhea, a driver said.

There isn't another one close by, so drivers will have to pull off in one of the nearby towns like Monteagle. Nearby businesses see this as an opportunity for travelers to learn more about their town.

"It's going to bring more people in and they can explore what's in Monteagle. They may not know what's up here," Phipps said.

TDOT officials said they plan to reopen the rest areas from December 21 to January 2. After that, they'll have to look at the conditions and figure out if the drought is still a factor. 

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