More than 100 years ago, Tennessee Valley families were preparing to trek up the W Road on Memorial Day to stay on Walden's Ridge for the summer, according to LaVonne Jolley, editor of the Chattanooga Regional Historical Journal as well as a resident of the mountaintop community.
If they tried that today they'd have to take a different route.
With the W Road set to remain closed for the next eight to 10 weeks, according to Hamilton County Public Works Administrator Todd Leamon, most traffic is filtering through U.S. 127 to get down the mountain.
"The big thing for me was I found out what a blessing it is that we do have this extra road [the W Road]," said Signal Road resident Thankful Davis, who takes her daughter to Signal Mountain Christian School each morning before she makes her way down the mountain for work. "You don't realize it until it's gone. An extra 20 minutes adds up. There have been some days when it's been 30 minutes with traffic being bad because everyone is going the front way [down the mountain]."
The road was closed in early April, reportedly due to cracks in its surface (refer to the article at timesfreepress.com/news/2013/apr/10/signal-mountains-w-road-closed-for-several-months). Since then, heavy rains and even a rockslide 1,000-1,200 feet from the original work site have occurred along the road.
The reported current cost for road repairs is nearly $1.3 million, and Leamon said though the weather has been the biggest challenge construction workers have faced so far, it has not delayed the completion of the repairs.
"There are some unique things with dealing with a road on the side of a mountain," he said. "We monitor them [roads] and obviously we close them when there are safety concerns."
Though Davis said she is looking forward to when the road reopens, she has no problem with being patient while it is repaired; to her, safety of the road is the top priority.
"I think there is a certain degree of wanting them to do it right," she said. "All the research going into making sure it is safer ... I think that's totally worth it."