published Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Dalton Roberts: We need another road up Signal Mountain

by Dalton Roberts
Do we need another road up Signal Mountain?

Signal Mountain is one of our most prized residential areas, despite having only one dependable access route (Signal Mountain Road).

A few years ago, we got a nice grant under a federal scenic highways bill to upgrade the "W" Road, and I was a little surprised the road was fairly safe and sitting on a fairly good foundation. It may need to be closed now and then for rockslides and maintenance, but it should continue to serve as a secondary route to Signal Mountain Road for a long time.

I am just wondering if this may not be the time for an engineering study to find the best route for a new road up the mountain. Some of the best remaining land for residential development is on the mountain, and every time some developer dreams a big dream for something special on the mountain, it seems to die with discussion of the road situation.

The only other access route up the mountain is Roberts Gap Road out of Falling Water. Somehow the county manages to keep this route open most of the time, but our engineers have long felt it should not be viewed as the third permanent route up the mountain. They have all talked about how the underlying rock structure is too unstable for it to be viewed as the "other" route.

Maybe another engineering study of the Roberts Gap Road should be done to see if there is any reliable underlying rock structure in that general area to build a safe road upon. We can just keep on patching it when it falls in, or we can go ahead and spend the money to see if there is any possibility of a dependable, safe road in that area. We have certainly talked about it long enough.

Since the underlying rock structure is one of the most important factors in determining where to build roads, the first engineering study might be related to that -- just general observations from TVA rock structure maps of the mountain to see what looks like the best areas to consider for a third route.

County Engineer Todd Leamon tells me an alternate route to Roberts Milll Road shows on some planning paper he inherited when he became county engineer, and he is looking for the planning backup to the route that is shown.

As Leamon points out, we cannot lean too heavily on Signal Mountain Road's availability. "It's not been all that long," he points out, "since a lane had to be closed four or five weeks due to a mudslide."

Mountain roads are mountain roads and subject to temporary closures due to rockslides and mudslides. It's good to have backups like the "W" Road and Roberts Gap, but minimally there should be two dependable, well-engineered routes up any mountain with the residential population of Signal.

Engineer Leamon says he plans to propose discussion of a new route in the new Regional Highway Plan. He says he is not trying to dictate a timetable but knows this is a first step to getting a potential project moving. He thinks it is time we got all the federal, state and local highway people to talking about Signal Mountain.

Actually, I think we are already a little overdue on it.

Email Dalton Roberts at

about Dalton Roberts...


Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
librul said...

We? WE? When did you become a resident of Signal Mountain? You're not? Then what effin developer are you fronting for?

October 30, 2012 at 7:44 a.m.
hellonurse said...

What a silly story - calling the W road secondary? It's more of a primary road for me than not!

October 30, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Yes, we do need something done. There is a section of the W road that is starting to cave in, right before you get to the curves. Also part of Signal Mtn Rd is starting to slide as well (right above where it slid last time).

October 30, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.
Salsa said...

Obama says: "You didn't build that."

October 30, 2012 at 5:06 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.