At its last business meeting on July 9, the Blount County Commission approved a $1 million appropriation from the county capital outlay fund. The immediate need was to improve three roads (county roads 21, 28, and 41) on which federal road funds have been spent and that have failed annual inspections for three years in a row. They cannot fail again without loss of federal highway funds allocated annually to the county – an amount in excess of $500,000 each year.
But the need and the dollars appropriated encompass much more than just those three roads, according to county administrator Ralph Mitchell.
“This project is not only to address roads that are failing, but those that are on the verge of failing next year or the year after that,” he said. A total number of such roads was not available, but considering the number that appear on the work lists for this year, it’s safe to conclude that the overall number is in the dozens, counting roads that could be expected to fail over two more years of winter weather and general wear and tear.
Factors contributing to failure include not only pavement conditions, but other aspects of road condition and safety such as centerline and pavement edge striping, road-name and traffic information/control signage, drainage and culvert adequacy, and condition of road shoulders. Often, attention to just those factors – especially striping – can bring the road’s score from failing to passing, with room to spare.
That doesn’t mean some roads won’t be resurfaced. Some will, but $1 million would not begin to cover repaving costs for all the roads in the county that must be upgraded to meet inspection criteria.
The following is a list by district of roads that have been selected for inclusion in the $1 million special improvement program. In fact, identifying the roads and submitting cost estimates for roads selected was necessary in order for funds to be dispersed to the districts. Commissioners emphasized that this list is preliminary and that a few roads could change due to circumstances they don’t anticipate, but that it should be accurate for the most part.
The list shows the county roads that will be included and an indication of the type of improvement planned.
District 1– total estimated cost: $266,784
County road 9 – white and yellow striping
County road 11 – yellow striping only
County road 4 – resurface and yellow striping
The following roads in District 1 will be
resurfaced, all or in part:
Tim Thomas Road
Fat Adams Drive
Pine Crest Drive
Fat Dunn Road
District 2 – total estimated cost: $234,966
County road 41 – yellow striping
County road 21 – yellow striping
County road 38 – resurface and white and yellow striping
County road 36 – road leveling, resurface, and
white and yellow striping
County road 30 – yellow striping
County road 26 – road leveling
County road 34 – road leveling and yellow
County road 48 – yellow striping
Mt. Hebron Road – yellow striping
County road 47 – road leveling and yellow
County road 55 – road leveling and yellow
County road 10 – road leveling and yellow
County road 37 – road signage
District 3 – total estimated cost: $244,000
Airport road (county road 28) – resurface one
mile and yellow striping
Daileys Chapel Road – yellow striping
County road 36 – resurface and white and yellow striping
County road 12 – resurface and white and yellow striping
County road 39 – yellow striping
County road 24 – white and yellow striping
District 4 – total estimated cost: not available
at this time
Because of circumstances related to
unknown costs of improving two bridges,
Commissioner Waymon Pitts of District 4 said
he doesn’t want to release a list of roads to be
worked until he is certain how much of the
budget will be required to upgrade the
bridges. One of the bridges is on Mountain
Gap Road, the other on Deans Ferry Road. He
said as soon as he has a firm idea on how
much money is going to be required for the
bridges – probably within the month – he will
release a list of District 4 roads to be worked
as a part of the special improvement program.
None of the failing roads are in District 4, he
said. He said he knows several of the roads to
be worked are in Woodhaven Subdivision.