published Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Rains cause minor delay for Signal Mountain's W Road construction (with video)

Construction on the W Road continues after setback
A construction access road washed out over the weekend, prompting workers to turn their attention to shoring up the throughway before work on the main road could continue. The work is expected to be completed in mid-June or about eight weeks from now.
  • photo
    Cindy Woods speaks about the how her commute to downtown has increased by 15-minutes due to the closure of the W Road. Repairs being made to the W Road have been delayed due to heavy rains and flooding from this past weekend atop Signal Mountain.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Weekend rains washed out some progress made in repairing Signal Mountain's W Road, but officials said the winding former wagon trail should reopen on schedule.

The historic W Road was closed this month after large cracks appeared in a segment that had been repaired only weeks before. At the time, officials were concerned about geological shifting.

Workers on Monday labored on the repair project, which is expected to cost $776,000, but they were playing a bit of catch-up.

Heavy rains Saturday and Sunday washed out a construction access road that was built to help engineers repair the wall that supports the W Road, according to County Public Works Administrator Todd Leamon.

Contractors first will repair the access road, then get back to work on the wall.

"We're still looking at 10 to 12 weeks, but the rain this past weekend did set us back," Leamon said.

It's too early to pinpoint the source of all the damage, he said.

"Whether it was extra traffic, extra rain, erosion, settling or stabilization, we're still looking at that," Leamon said.

Cindy Wood, who lives on East Brow Road at the top of the W Road, said the road closure has caused her some trouble.

"Oh yeah, it adds about 15 minutes to any trip I take, because I have to go the long way down," Wood said.

But the closing isn't all bad, she said.

"There has been less traffic around here, and that's a good thing," Wood said.

Mitzi Ruth, who lives up the street from Wood at 1520 East Brow Road, said she has enjoyed the decrease in traffic.

"Nobody drives in front of our house anymore," Ruth said.

The added travel time has been a slight inconvenience to Ruth, but fixing the road properly is more important than saving time going to the grocery store, she said.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said workers are trying to make the repairs as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime, Coppinger urges residents to stay out of the work site.

"We want the residents, especially of Signal Mountain and Walden to be patient with us. ... It's a huge inconvenience, obviously, and we're sensitive to that, but at the end of the day, the most important issue is the safety of the road," Coppinger said.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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