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Drilling may help town of Unicoi get to bottom of road woes

July 19th, 2011 10:16 am by Brad Hicks

UNICOI — Town of Unicoi officials want to get to the bottom of what is causing road issues along Massachusetts Avenue and took steps to do so at Monday’s regular meeting of the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The board heard from engineer Gary Tysinger with Tysinger, Hampton & Partners. Tysinger said there is an approximately 400-foot portion of the road, along a sewer line that runs from where Lincoln Street intersects with Massachusetts Avenue to Unicoi Drive, where some of the pavement has sank in.
Tysinger said the area has a couple of features that could be problematic. First, he said, there is a shale bank nearby that may be causing backed up water to flow underground along the sewer line. He also said there are several springs in the area.
Previously, the county’s highway department dug a couple of holes in the road along the line, and crews found that the soil was a mixture of silty sand and topsoil, Tysinger said. He also said that when the sewer line was originally installed, crews used what Tysinger called a “dirty” backfill to fill holes. Over time, the weight of wet soil has possibly impacted the sewer line, he said.
Tysinger also said there are signs in the area that may point to an infiltration of groundwater. Earlier this month, Tysinger presented a report to Unicoi officials on the situation and what could be done.
“One of the problems you have in a situation like this is that we don’t know exactly what the soil’s doing around that pipe and under that pipe,” Tysinger said. “So what we proposed is to investigate along this line to find what was going on, in other words, drill down in the soil and find out.”
This would involve the drilling of three boreholes along the road, Tysinger said. This would allow him to find out if the soil under the sewer line was saturated, causing the line to fail, or to determine if there is a leak in the backfill.
Tysinger presented several options, one of which includes drilling to find out what is going on along the sewer line and the best avenue to take to resolve the issue. This would cost approximately $3,300 to complete.
If the sewer line ultimately needs to be rebuilt, Tysinger said this would come at a cost of around $30,000. If backfill needs to be replaced, it would cost around $20,000, he said.
“Before we make that decision, we want to drill and find out what the soil’s doing,” he said.
There was some question as to whether the sewer line, which was installed around 10 years ago, is owned by Erwin Utilities.
The board unanimously approved allowing Tysinger to drill along the road, but only up to the town’s legal responsibility in the event the line is owned by Erwin Utilities.
In other business, the board:
n Approved the second reading of an ordinance to lower the speed limit on Willow Pond Road.
n Approved a resolution to contract with the First Tennessee Development District for planning services.
n Approved a resolution to borrow $370,000 to be used for the purchase of nearly two acres of property off Exit 32. This funding is to be used to purchase a home at this location that the town intends to use for multiple offices. A portion of the money is also to be used for renovations to the building.
n In a called meeting of the town Beer Board prior to the BMA meeting, the board approved an on-permise beer permit application for The Party Store for an upcoming fundraiser at the Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens.
Proceeds from the fundraiser are to go to the Girls On the Run program.

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