published Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

St. Elmo Avenue in Chattanooga getting repairs


by Cliff Hightower
Motorists make their way past potholes along St. Elmo Avenue which is scheduled to begin receiving repairs and paving at the end of July or beginning of August.
Motorists make their way past potholes along St. Elmo Avenue which is scheduled to begin receiving repairs and paving at the end of July or beginning of August.
Photo by Dan Henry.

A 1.7-mile stretch of St. Elmo Avenue soon will start receiving repairs that residents say are needed badly.

"The road is in really bad shape," said Paige Wichman, president of the Community Association of Historic St. Elmo.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will begin repairs and repaving of the road starting at the end of July or beginning of August, said Jennifer Osborne, TDOT spokeswoman.

She said the fixes and paving will be from the Georgia state line to Ochs Highway. She did not have an estimated cost of the project. The fixes will be handled by TDOT's maintenance department, so it will not be contracted out, she said.

Most of the problems with the road have come from several utility cuts throughout the years for sewer and water lines, she said.

The department's job will be to go in and correct those issues, she said.

"They're going to smooth out the rough parts and then repave," Osborne said.

Once work starts, the paving project should be finished in a couple of weeks, she said.

Wichman said a lot of the problems came three years ago after several snowfalls. The road became more rutted. She said portions of it are so bad some people drive in the bike lane.

Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham knows how bad it is, and he's been working for two years to get it improved.

"If you're driving down through there, it will rattle your teeth," he said.

He said the problem results because St. Elmo Avenue is such a main thoroughfare for traffic between Tennessee and Georgia and is used by a lot of large trucks.

Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson also has been working with Graham to get the road fixed. Anderson said the state paved the road several years ago. But it didn't help much.

"They just paved over a problem," he said.

He said he thinks this time around the fixes might last awhile.

"It seems like they understand the problem is not the surface," he said. "It goes deeper."

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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