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Car plunge brings call for additional barricades on King Springs Road

Rex Barber • Mar 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Additional barricades may be installed on King Springs Road to prevent motorists from accessing a crumbling section of that road and potentially careening into Sinking Creek.

Neighbors near King Springs and Ferrell Drive say motorists frequently drive around barricades where a section of King Springs has eroded into Sinking Creek, and Wednesday night apparently one driver tumbled into the creek after going around the barricade near Ferrell.

“We need another barricade,” said Nancy Ferrell, who lives nearby. “We have been informed that we would get another barricade out here and it’s not been done. They just continue to go through there.”

A black Toyota Corolla was found upside down in the creek Thursday morning, water gushing through it. A tow truck was arranged by Johnson City police to pull it out of the creek.

The driver was not in the vehicle, apparently having left after the crash. It is about a 30-foot drop from what is left of the road to the creek bed.

A portion of King Springs was closed due to erosion along Sinking Creek back in mid-January, when a weeklong storm dumped an estimated 10 inches of water on Johnson City.

The barricade in place Wednesday night consisted of two concrete blocks and a sign informing people the road was closed. As it was Wednesday, there was room for a car to go around the barricade and continue on to the remaining portion of the road and shoulder.

Apparently, no one was hurt Wednesday night, as the driver was long gone by the time authorities were alerted, but Ferrell said injuries are bound to happen if the road is not completely blocked.

“I’d say it happens at least once a week that they’re doing that, if not more,” Ferrell said of motorists driving around the barricade.

She remembered hearing a loud noise Wednesday night around 11:30 and thinks that may have been the Toyota crashing into the creek.

Johnson City Police Department Lt. Larry Williams said a report was not done on the crash so he did not know the car owner’s name.

A stolen vehicle report on a black Toyota Corolla was filed Thursday with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office shortly after the Toyota was pulled from Sinking Creek. It was unclear if that was the same Corolla.

Ferrell said motorists have gone around both sides of the barricade. On the right side is a rocky yard that has been driven through several times, which has created mud.

“I think maybe they’re going to put some more of those concrete barriers out there to completely prevent people from going around it,” Williams said Thursday afternoon, though the police department is not responsible for placement of those barricades.

Williams cautioned anyone against ignoring a roadblock because to do so is a violation of the law.

“It’s operating a vehicle on a closed roadway,” Williams said. “Not only is it against the law but it is extremely dangerous. Fortunately we didn’t have a sad situation from it, because it could have been a sad event.”

He said if someone had been injured and trapped in the car, that person could have died before help arrived.

A firm estimate on when King Springs could be repaired is not available. In January, Assistant Public Works Director Mike Arsenault said the damage could take months to repair.

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