Road crews struggle to clear W Road rock slide
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- A rock slide on the W Road is causing a massive road block not just for drivers, but also for highway crews struggling to clean it up.
It happened Friday night, but there's still no movement. That's because the Hamilton County Highway Department says while rock slides happen from time to time, this is the largest one they've had to deal with. While crews work to clear it, some neighbors say it's a sign something needs to be done to make W Road safer.
Crews are chipping away at an estimated 150,000 pounds of rock that's keeping W Road closed.
"Nothing of this magnitude. This is the biggest one we've had fall," Hamilton Co. Highway Dept. Director Harold Austin said.
It's so big, the county didn't have the proper equipment to clear it. Walden Utility Company stepped in and donated a beefed up hydraulic hammer so they could get the job done. They were finally able to start Monday.
"One the size of a dump truck, and then another little smaller and then another about the size of a car," Austin said.
It may be a beast to move, but Austin says he's both thankful and surprised these boulders didn't injure anyone when they decided to come tumbling onto the roadway Friday night. They did hit one car holding Kenneth King and his 2-year-old son.
"Looked like a bunch of ashes was coming off and then I slammed on the brakes, and hit it head on," Kenneth King said.
Both walked away unscathed.
Kimberley Evans lives just a couple hundred feet away from where the rock slide happened. She says she's seen countless accidents on W Road in her 11 years living there and has even hit a boulder herself.
"We need to be doing something about the condition of the W Road," Evans said.
That's why she and some neighbors plan to start a petition.
"Everybody that I've talked to is very concerned," Evans said.
They hope to get the county to do a geological study and possibly re-do the road or add netting against the sides to cut down on rock falls.
"There's certain things they can geologically check to see whether the ground is safe," Evans said.
The highway department attributes this rock slide to the rain we got last week, and typical erosion over time.
Now that crews have the necessary equipment, the Hamilton County Highway Department says their speed depends on how easily the boulders break. Then, trucks will have to haul the remnants down the mountain. They're shooting for Wednesday to re-open W Road.