Major Roane County road washed out by floods

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ROCKWOOD, Tenn. (WATE) – There’s another road closure for residents of Roane County, recent flooding has washed out Airport Road.

It’s been closed 12 days and is not expected to reopen for weeks or possibly months.

Roane County’s road superintendent took us to the sites of two washouts.

It’s the second time in the last 12 months that a major roadway in Roane County has been closed.

Back in February of 2019, it was Riggs Chapel Road in Harriman that was closed to traffic for more than ten months.

Now it’s a badly damaged road on Rockwood Mountain.

It’s another headache for Roane County residents. Part of Airport Road which hugs Rockwood Mountain has been shut down since February 6.

A 100-foot section of the south side lane of Airport road collapsed due to heavy rain and run-off from the ridge above the road.

The depth of collapsed roadway varies from 12-36 inches.

“Five million dollars is the estimate, what they figure it would cost to fix this. They said they couldn’t say whether it would hold it or not. Dare: What are you going to do? Dennis: I’m not going to do it. Not no five million dollars, we can’t afford that.”

Roane County Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson

A second collapse to Airport Road is close to Rockwood’s city line. Here the opening to the broken road is a foot deep.

“This is really a road for the people in Morgan county to come to trade in Rockwood in the city to trade in the local stores.”

Dennis Ferguson

With a permanent fix to Airport Road too expensive for the county, there is an alternative.

“I’ve even thought out maybe, shutting this lane off, and leaving this one lane open and having the red lights up here all the time.”

Dennis Ferguson

In downtown Harriman, the city will have to figure out how it will repair a huge washout at David Webb Riverfront Park.

However, with the river level still high and the flow extremely fast, the park will likely be closed for a while.

No date has been determined yet when Airport Road will reopen.

Tuesday in Harriman, a team from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, along with Harriman officials, will examine damage at the Riverfront Park.

The city is hoping federal funding may be available from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to shore up damage at the park.

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