Route 70-N and 66-N slide repairs in Hawkins delayed until December

Jeff Bobo • Oct 7, 2019 at 12:12 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The completion of repairs being conducted on two Hawkins County state highways that were damaged by heavy rain and mudslides in February has been set back to December.

The $15.18 million repair on Route 66-N north of Rogersville was most recently expected to be completed in late October until a deposit of about 40,000 tons of pyritic material was discovered. All of it must be removed.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi told the Times news Friday that the material, also known as “fools gold,” has a high pH value that could damage the environment.

“Detrimental to the ecology of the area”

“When rainwater comes into contact with the rock, it can cause the runoff water to have a higher pH value,” Nagi said. “This would be detrimental to the ecology of the area; therefore, the department has arranged to have the material hauled away to a landfill.”

The Route 66-N slide occurred between New Life Road and Clinch Valley Road on Feb. 24. The new anticipated completion date for repairs is Dec. 23.

The repair project included excavation of roadway slopes, paving, construction of all ditches, and extensive geostabilization device installation for approximately one mile.

“$1.6 million for removal and disposal”

“On Sept. 11, the department was made aware of potential pyritic material on the referenced site,” Nagi stated. “The contractor began locating landfills that would accept the material and supply rates for disposal. The early estimate for removal is approximately 40,000 tons. The closest landfill available is in Morristown, TN (3 hour round trip from site) and is expected to cost approximately $1.6 million for removal and disposal of material.”

Route 70-N’s unstable soil conditions

Coincidentally, Rogersville’s only other direct route over Clinch Mountain to Clinch Valley, Route 70-N, will also remain closed well into December, due to contractors discovering unstable soil conditions that weren’t unanticipated.

The Route 70-N slide occurred on a section of the highway between Clinch Valley Road and Route 94 (Pressmens Home Road) near Cave Springs Road on Feb. 21. The $8.72 million Route 70 repair is now anticipated for completion on Dec. 12.

“Based on site conditions, only one activity could be completed at a time due to safety concerns and topographical site constraints,” Nagi stated in his report. “Stability of the slide area was addressed in excavated lifts and then slide material was removed. The contractor excavated down the massive slide area as the subcontractor installed the shoring system (soil nail stabilization).”

The Route 70-N slide occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 21 when visibility was poor, and two vehicles drove off the highway, resulting in the death of a Jonesborough man and serious injuries to an Eidson man.