published Saturday, June 15th, 2013

W Road repairs on schedule, in budget at halfway point (with video)

W Road work on schedule, should reopen mid-July
Workers continue to stabilize the W Road near the top of Signal Mountain, after the road washed-out in April. The road should reopen in mid-July and the project is currently operating within the $1.3 million approved budget.
Jack Lowery, left, talks with John Agan, center, and Reid Bailey on the W Road construction site. Lowery works for Lowery Stonework, Agan is the Hamilton County director of engineering and Bailey is the senior engineer for GeoStabilization International.
Jack Lowery, left, talks with John Agan, center, and Reid Bailey on the W Road construction site. Lowery works for Lowery Stonework, Agan is the Hamilton County director of engineering and Bailey is the senior engineer for GeoStabilization International.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
  • photo
    Stonework is seen on the W Road construction site.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

After a few glitches from Mother Nature early on, repairs to Signal Mountain's W Road are on track and in budget at the halfway mark, engineers say.

Indeed, what were two 30-foot craters in the winding road in May now resemble something close to a road -- supported by metal rods, mesh and stones wrapped in rugged geotextile cloth.

Hamilton County Director of Engineering Jon Agan said Thursday that repairs are on schedule and within the $1.3 million budget.

"We needed 12 weeks from April 16 or so. ... Right now, barring any unusual weather conditions, we anticipate being finished mid-July," Agan said.

Emergency repairs on the 120-year-old road began in April, after two parts of the road developed large cracks. The sections washed out in heavy rain, along with an access road used by construction teams.

Commissioners initially released $776,000 for repairs, then voted in May to spend another $500,000.

Cracking had been caused by large voids beneath the roadbed, according to county engineers, but whether geologic shifting, water or some other factor caused the voids is anyone's guess.

Along with the planned repairs, Agan said the company doing the work, GeoStabilization International, has installed devices to monitor geologic conditions beneath the road and removed several precariously poised boulders overhead.

Commissioner Jim Fields, who represents Signal Mountain, said he has been told the project is on track, and he hasn't heard anything from constituents.

Even if repairs take more time than expected, Fields wants them done right.

"I'd much rather us have it fixed than someone end up at the foot of the mountain unexpectedly," Fields said.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry also said repairs must be full and complete. He hopes the project doesn't require any more money, but it's difficult to predict the weather -- the main culprit behind delays.

"The W Road is a vital artery to Signal Mountain, and so we are going to do everything we can to take care of it. But we don't have a crystal ball, you know," Henry said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@times freepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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