The Cold Months
BY O.J. EARLY
Motorists traveling local roads this winter may encounter more bumps than normal.
A far-above-average amount of rain this year has generated an abundance of potholes across the county, Road Superintendent David Weems said in an interview this week.
The situation is expected to worsen when cold weather arrives.
"It's going to be a problem," Weems said Thursday.
Brad Peters, director of the Greeneville Department of Public Works, echoed Weems' sentiments.
"It is a concern ... especially if we have a cold and wet winter," Peters said. "We'll just have to wait and see."
Freezing temperatures expand cracks in the road, making potholes bigger. And with numerous potholes already present, colder months will be the perfect environment for rough driving, Weems said.
Chip-sealed roads, which comprise more than 40 percent of the county's roadways, will make for the worst driving conditions this winter, Weems said.
"That's where the majority of the problems are going to be," he stated.
Weems has said for several years that many of the 500-plus miles of chip-sealed roads in the county are in need of repair
Chip seal is a type of pavement surface used commonly on rural roads.
"We're trying to patch all that we can before winter," he emphasized.
WEATHER A FACTOR
The severity of the coming winter will dictate the condition of many local roads, Weems and Peters agreed.
"It will depend a lot on the temperatures," Weems said. "It could be worse if the temperatures are low."
The road superintendent added: "I don't expect all the roads to tear up. It will depend a lot on the temperatures."
AccuWeather, a private weather-forecasting firm, predicts record-breaking warmth across East Tennessee in December.
Temperatures are expected to be 4-6 degrees above normal during the first month of winter.
Above-normal precipitation, though, is forecast for the coming winter season, AccuWeather has reported.
Heavy rain, with the possibility of flooding, is also expected to be a threat during the cold weather months, according to the weather firm.
The 2014 Old Farmers Almanac predicts a colder-than-normal winter, with below-average precipitation for East Tennessee.
Only so much can be done to prepare for the colder months, Weems said this week.
"We've got a crew spending full-time on paving and patching roadways," he said, but added, "Winter will get us before we get all the work done."
In short, it's a race against the clock for Weems' department.
"With 1,200 miles of roads ... it's a long process," he said.