Kentucky-based Nattco Inc. has completed repairs to a section of King Springs Road, and the soil and rock beneath it, that washed away when a weeklong January storm dumped an estimated 10 inches of water on Johnson City.
“The good news is people out there have their road back,” Mike Arsenault, the city’s assistant public works director, said this week. “I know they were without it for some time, and we really appreciate their patience.” The stretch of road was made impassable when it fell into Sinking Creek, and delays caused a few residents and business owners to call the city to complain.
Concrete barriers and bright orange warning signs were placed on either end of the damaged road when the slide first occurred. Additional barricades were installed in March to prevent motorists from accessing a crumbling section of that road and potentially careening into the creek.
That action was taken after a Toyota Corolla was found upside down in the creek that month with water gushing through it soon after it had swerved while negotiating a passage around existing barricades. Johnson City police called a tow truck to pull it out of the creek.
In August, six months after the damage originally occurred, Arsenault told the Johnson City Press that the city “just didn’t push it hard enough” in getting its act together sooner to make repairs.
The contractor was on the job a few weeks later to carry out its obligations in a $212,000 contract with the city to repair the road to its original condition by shoring up the more than 300 feet of gouged-out roadway. A large amount of fill and block was removed, and a vehicle with a 40-foot-drill that was used to set railroad rails.
The rails were used as studs, or mounts, for a series of three walls that begin near the creek and were then placed nearer the road. Guardrails were placed on the inner sides of the walls and tons of large and small rock, as well as fill, was compacted between the structures, before final paving.
“Things went pretty smoothly for them,” Arsenault said. “They did a fine job, and for the most part were on schedule. The contractor finished Oct. 7, and Summers-Taylor had to come in later and do a little paving, but we opened the road back up about a week later. They eventually repaved King Springs from just east of Ferrell Drive to Legion Street.”
Jack Cable, who lives at 1605 King Springs Road — the house nearest the damage if traveling north from Johnson City — said in July he’d gotten tired of calling the city. Cable, who has friends and does business in Elizabethton, said he’s had to take curvy Dave Buck Road and come out at the old drive-in site on the Old Elizabethton Highway.
“The repairs seem to be OK,” Cable said this week. “They’ve done a good job, but it took a while.”
Arsenault said delays came from a combination of things.
“We were trying to figure out how to go about fixing it,” he said. “We considered different remedies, including building up the existing concrete shoring at the top of the creek that slants upward toward the road. We felt we needed to get several opinions on what needed to be done.”
The city hired Tysinger, Hampton & Partners, which in turn employed an independent constructional engineer, Greeneville’s Jacobs and Associates, to finalize the design.