ELIZABETHTON — What appeared to be a possible solution to large dump truck traffic on Judge Ben Allen Road last month is apparently off the drawing board this month.
Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler had proposed a different route for the trucks coming and going to a rock quarry and sand mine at the upper end of Judge Ben Allen Road on the side of Holston Mountain. He had suggested routing the traffic through a section of the Carter County Landfill and onto Minton Hollow Road.
Schuettler told the Carter County Highway Department on Monday that solution appears to be unworkable because of costs. He said the traffic would require added security and it would also require the newly installed truck scales and the scale house to be moved. He said the estimated cost would be about $625,000.
Jim McGill, a manager for Aggregates USA, had said the company might be willing to pay for the route Schuettler suggested. The company had already planned to contract with Summers-Taylor to make improvements to Judge Ben Allen Road. On Monday, McGill said the $625,000 price range was beyond his company’s budget. There might also be some question on whether the county controls the section of Old Campbell Road that would be needed to make the connection between the landfill and Judge Ben Allen Road.
Several residents from Judge Ben Allen Road attended Monday’s meeting and continued to express opposition to the quarry’s proposed reopening.
Resident David Bautista gave an impassioned plea to save the neighborhood, which he said would suffer losses in property value, resulting in a loss of tax base for the county.
The committee responded to Bautista’s request and to a petition from residents by approving committee member John Lewis’ motion not to make improvements to the narrow and curvy road, improvements that the residents believed would simply encourage more trucks.
McGill said the company plans to reopen the quarry whether the road was improved or not.
Chairman Joel Street said it was beyond the scope of the county to decide the quarry could not be opened.
In other matters, the committee traveled to Siam to dedicate the new bridge over the Watauga River. The bridge is unusual in that the county has named the bridge after two distinguished families of the community.
The northbound lane is named for Bill Allen, a dairy farmer whose land was adjacent to the bridge and who lobbied the state to design a safer bridge without a sharp turn at the approach. His efforts were successful.
The southbound lane is named after John Curtis, who was instrumental in building the nearby Wilbur Dam and bringing electricity on a broader scale to Elizabethton. His son, also John Curtis, a community leader and World War II veteran, is also remembered in the bridge’s name.