The road, and the soil and rock beneath it, was washed away when a weeklong storm dumped an estimated 10 inches of water on Johnson City. A few citizens have complained since that time that the city was taking too long to fix the area on King Springs between Ferrell and Stoney Brook drives.
Six months after the damage originally occurred, Assistant Public Works Director Mike 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.
On Thursday, however, Arsenault was at the construction site pointing to plans for the $212,000 contract with Kentucky-based Nattco Inc. to repair the road to its original condition by shoring up the more than 300 feet of gouged-out roadway. The City Commission approved the plan last month.
“The order to proceed was issued a few weeks ago, and the company has removed a large amount of fill and block,” he said. “They started work about a week ago and excavated the area. They’ve delivered equipment here today, including a vehicle with a 40-foot-drill that will be used to set railroad rails.”
The rails will be used as studs, or mounts, for a series of three walls that begin near the creek and are then placed nearer the road. Guardrails will then be placed on the inner sides of the walls and tons of large and small rock, as well as fill, will be compacted between the structures.
Arsenault said the contractor should be on the job for about a month.
“The plan is the drill crew will come in on Monday,” he said. “I expect to see them here every day for a week. I’m guessing it will take about three weeks to build everything out from that point. When they are finished, the city will then repave the road and install a new guardrail on the creek side of the road.”
Concrete barriers and bright orange warning signs were placed on either end of the damaged road when the slide first occurred in January, but a few 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.
Jack Cable, who lives at 1605 King Springs Road — the house nearest the damage if traveling north from Johnson City — said a few months back that 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.
Arsenault said delays came from a combination of things.
“We were trying to figure out how to go about fixing it,” he said while going over the plans. “We considered different remedies, including building up the existing concrete shoring at the top of the creek which 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.