Carter Co. residents sound off on drainage woes

John Thompson • Aug 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Once again, the discussions of the Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission were focused on drainage problems instead of roads. Residents from Brown’s Branch, Braemer, Biltmore and other areas have attended recent committee meetings to discuss drainage problems they want the county to correct.

One area where work has been done is at Brown’s Branch in Hampton, where Deputy Highway Superintendent Slim Miller said a privately purchased 5-foot diameter tile was installed by the Carter County Highway Department to help with a drainage problem on private property that was having an impact on the lower end of the community.

“That tile was purchased to help everyone,” Committee Chairman Joel Street said.

“The problem on Brown’s Branch is not yet fixed,” said Brown’s Branch resident Juanita Miller.

Another resident, Paul Campbell, said the ditches in the area need to be cleaned out. Campbell said there are places along Brown’s Branch where there are no ditches.

“It’s all over the county, not just in Brown’s Branch,” Street said. “They fill in the ditch lines so their yards are even all the way to the road. They put in driveways without a tile.”

Street said when the ditches are not being filled in, residents are placing leaves and cut brush in the ditches.

Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler agreed, saying “if they don’t burn their brush, they are going to put it in the ditches. Maybe we need to educate people about the problem.”

Clyde Moore, a resident of Morton Road, said the ditches in that section were also filled up. There was also a culvert on private property at the head of Stout Hollow that needed to be cleaned out because it was causing flooding in the Swimming Pool Road area. A resident said the man did not clean out his culvert because “it is not bothering me.”

Helen Cates of Braemer spoke of another ditch that constantly needs to be cleaned out. It was on an unopened alley and there was disagreement on whether the county has accepted the road or whether it was private land. Schuettler said he thought he could solve part of the problem by gettingwiththeTennesseeDepartment of Transportation to open up a large culvert that crosses U.S. Highway 321. He said a similar job by TDOT on Tenn. Highway 91 in Hunter had been effective.

Schuettler said the roads and drainage system for Braemer was designed early in the 20th century by Pittsburgh Lumber Co.

“We didn’t have planning 100 years ago,” Street said, “and those are 65-year-old problems.”

He said the best hope for correcting the problem would be for the Army Corps of Engineers to study the problem.

The federal government is preparing to help with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources projects. Three projects, at Coney Island Road in Stoney Creek, Swimming Pool Road in Hampton and Ralph Hathaway Road in Rittertown, have all been approved and will soon be let out for bids. There are other projects in the county that Natural Resources is considering. Schuettler said it takes from 8-24 months to get approval.

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