UPDATE: Both lanes of Highway 68 re-opened to traffic
After months of work, the road is open to traffic in both directions.
UPDATE: Rhea County dispatchers tell Channel 3 that Highway 68 has been re-opened to traffic in both directions. The road was opened shortly after midnight Thursday.
The road was closed in April after days of heavy rain washed away the road's foundation, and part of one lane slid down the hillside.
TDOT crews closed the road for repair work. Drivers should expect to see flaggers on the road, as crews finish clean-up from their work on the road.
PREVIOUS STORY: Work previously scheduled for State Route 68 in Rhea County has been postponed because of the expected weather. TDOT crews planned on closing the road for two days so the necessary work could be done to complete the stabilization project.
The two-day closure will now begin at 5:00 am EDT on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Currently, the road will remain open to one lane controlled with a signal.
The road was closed on April 24, 2018 because the outside lane became unstable and slid down the slope.
In May, stabilization work had progressed enough that the roadway was opened to one lane and controlled with a temporary signal.
PREVIOUS STORY: Highway 68 in Rhea County will be closed for two days beginning Monday, July 16 at 5:00 CDT. During this time, crews with the Tennessee Highway Department of Transportation will be working to speed up the completion of the road project.
"By completely closing the road for two days, it will speed up completion of the project and allow the road to be fully reopened to two lanes nearly a week sooner than if the road is kept open to one lane during the remainder of the work," TDOT explained
Crews will be working on a variety of projects while the road is closed.
"This will allow crews full access to the work site to complete rebuilding the outside lane, including backfilling the area with new material, paving, putting down pavement markings and installing guardrail," a TDOT spokesperson explained.
There will be message boards to alert everyone to the closure. Detours will also be posted.
TDOT says the work is weather permitting.
PREVIOUS STORY: TDOT says repairs to Highway 68 may go into mid-July. Since crews are working while traffic is in the area, we're told the project is taking a bit longer than originally expected.
"They have to deal with live traffic, that takes a lot longer if the road had been just closed and we could just come and go at will. They have to work around traffic, take delivery of large shipment of rock. It just takes a lot longer," Jennifer Flynn, a TDOT spokesperson, said.
Currently, there is one lane open, and it is controlled by a traffic signal.
PREVIOUS STORY: The needed repairs to Highway 68 in Rhea County are taking longer than expected.
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson, Jennifer Flynn, says the plan was to re-open the road at the end of May. But, now they’ve moved it to the end of June 2018.
The road was closed in April after a section of the roadway washed away after days of heavy rain.
Crews say because they opened one lane to drivers, they have to work around traffic delays and that has put them behind schedule.
PREVIOUS STORY: One lane of Highway 68 is back open in Rhea County. It's been closed for more than 2 weeks after a portion of the road slid down Grandview Mountain.
Traffic cones line the road and temporary lights mark a portion of Hwy 68, and many drivers are happy to see it.
“I’m overjoyed!” driver Glen Reece exclaimed.
One lane is open to drivers traveling in both directions.
Reece travels over Grandview multiple times a month. Since the road closed, he’s had to take another route.
As soon as he heard a lane had been opened, he was one of the multiple cars lined up and waiting.
Without Highway 68, commutes became a headache for many drivers.
"You have to go all the way into Roane County, after you hit Highway 70 West, go up Rockwood Mountain," Reece said detailing his alternate route.
He said his commute will be 30-40 minutes shorter now that the road is open.
It's open to cars, trucks, and school buses but not heavy commercial vehicles like 18 wheelers.
Only one lane is open while crews continue to make repairs to the road.
Reece said he isn't worried for his safety.
"These guys know what they're doing," Reece explained. "They're doing a great job, they really are."
He’s just thankful TDOT is helping drivers while fixing the problem.
"It will keep me from going all the way around,” Reece said. “It'll keep me from going up Rockwood Mountain, which is a very dangerous mountain."
TDOT says the road won't fully reopen until the end of May.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Highway 68 will partially reopen this weekend as crews continue to repair the damage caused by a slide last month.
TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn says one lane of the highway near log mile 5 will reopen to light traffic on Saturday morning.
No heavy commercial vehicles will be allowed to travel through the area.
Traffic will be controlled by a temporary traffic signal.
Flynn says TDOT crews are still working to further stabilize the road and reinforce it, so both lanes can eventually reopen.
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Jennifer Flynn says TN State Road 68 is still closed after a section of the roadway washed away after days of heavy rain.
Crews are still working using soil nailing to stabilize the ground under the roadbed.
The road is expected to be closed until the end of May, Flynn said.
PREVIOUS STORY: TDOT crews have begun work to repair a section of SR-68 near in Rhea County that is currently closed due to a slide.
The work is expected to take approximately four weeks to complete and the road will remain closed to through traffic as the repairs are underway. Estimated completion date is May 2018.
PREVIOUS STORY: Drivers on Grandview Mountain are getting used to longer commutes after heavy rains took out a portion of Highway 68, a major roadway in Rhea County.
TDOT officials said it started as a crack in the roadway. While Channel 3 was on the scene Tuesday, a tree fell on the crack causing a portion of the road to tumble down the mountain.
Officials said the damage is caused by water under the road.
“It’s really put a hardship on the whole community,” Grandview resident and business owner Robert Dannel said.
Dannel has lived in Grandview his whole life. He said problems with the roads happen all the time but are always fixed quickly.
Now, TDOT workers have a major fix on their hands. Engineers have been surveying the area to come up with a plan.
Dannel said not having the road open has Grandview residents concerned for their safety.
“What we worry about more than anything is the ambulance service is in Spring City, and they’re cut off. It’s 45 minutes or better to come around here,” said Dannel.
Officers are posted at either end of the closed road to help as much as they can.
Spring City is the closest town. With Hwy 68 open, it’s a 7-minute commute. Now, it takes nearly an hour.
Dannel hopes engineers find a permanent solution to a problem he said happens far too often.
“We need this taken care of as soon as possible,” Dannel urged. “We’ve got to get this road open.”
He’s also calling on state leaders to help.
“Governor Haslam pushed that gas tax through to repair these roads when the price of gas was just $2 a gallon, well it’s going up! That’s a hardship, so let’s see where that tax money is going. Let’s get this road fixed!” Dannel urged.
TDOT is not sure when repairs on the road will start.
A Rhea County Ambulance representative said Grandview residents don’t need to be concerned. Cumberland County EMS is stepping in to help. Any Grandview resident that needs an ambulance should call 911 as normal.
PREVIOUS STORY: Highway 68 in Rhea County is now closed, due to a portion of the road collapsing on Tuesday.
TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said the collapse was caused by the recent rain that fell across the Tennessee Valley.
"SR-68 will remain closed until further notice," Flynn said. "The area of the slide is approximately three miles north of U.S. 27 in Spring City, Tennessee."
Trees began falling by the highway, causing part of the roadway to completely fall off the mountain.
"Sheriff Mike Neal would like the Grand View community to know that we will have a deputy stationed on the mountain for calls 24 hours until the roadway is reopened for emergency vehicle traffic," a spokesperson for the Rhea Co. Sheriff's Office said.
Flynn said message boards will be posted to make drivers aware of the closure.
PREVIOUS STORY: A Rhea County Highway is down to one lane due to a large crack in the roadway.
The crack is located near mile 5.2 along Wassom Memorial Highway, between Spring City and Grandview.
In a post on Facebook, the Rhea County Sheriff's Office explained that the crack was caused by heavy rain over the past several days.
Jennifer Flynn with TDOT said this is an area where they have had issues before.
The sheriff's office said, "Please use caution as you travel this section of Highway 68 as TDOT is on the scene trying to work on the problem."