It's A Rough Go
In Some Places;
6 Local Bridges
Are Also 'Deficient'
BY O.J. EARLY
Motorists traveling on Tennessee's roads and bridges continue to encounter bumps and potholes.
But it's still better than much of what you'll likely see nationwide, according to a 2013 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The ASCE releases a report every four years, assessing the nation's infrastructure state by state.
Much like a school report card, the group gives a letter grade for performance and condition, in areas such as roads, bridges, aviation, ports and energy.
The organization handed the U.S. a C+ in bridges and a D in roadway infrastructure.
The ASCE gave Tennessee a B- in bridges and roads.
Locally, many of Greene County's roads and bridges are in good condition, according to Mark Nagi, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) spokesman.
While Tennessee's bridges are in better shape than those in much of the rest of the nation, East Tennessee has a higher number of "structurally deficient" bridges than Middle Tennessee, Nagi said.
A "structurally deficient" bridge is one that needs structural repairs, but isn't unsafe for travelers, Nagi said.
"Although efforts are under way to improve the condition of highway bridges across Tennessee, they have been most successful in the Middle Tennessee area and on the Cumberland Plateau," said Nagi.
"Both East Tennessee and West Tennessee have a moderately higher density of structurally deficient bridges than Middle Tennessee."
The conditions of bridges vary from county to county, he added.
Greene County has 301 bridges maintained by TDOT. Of those bridges, six are deemed "structurally deficient" by TDOT, Nagi, said.
"Greene County is in fairly good condition compared to some other East Tennessee counties such as Carter County, for example," he said.
THE LOCAL LIST
Bridges in Greene County that TDOT has deemed structurally deficient, based on 2013 inspections, are:
* Mud Creek Bridge, Branch Bridge, Paint Creek Bridge and Richland Creek Bridge, all in southern Greene County, and
* Lick Creek Bridge and Mink Creek Bridge, both in western Greene County.
As for Tennessee roads, 38 percent are in "poor or mediocre condition," according to the report.
Nevertheless, Tennessee's roadways have shown marked improvement over the last two decades, according to a report released by the Reason Foundation, a public policy think tank.
The roadway assessment, released in February, examined 20 years of highway data from 1989 through 2008.
The study, "Are Highways Crumbling? State Performance Summaries," took information from all 50 states, assessing seven key categories that dealt mostly with the condition of major highways and Interstates, as well as rural roads and bridges.
Tennessee improved in all seven categories -- one of only 11 states in the U.S. to do so.
"We strive to try to keep our main roads in good condition," Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems said earlier this year.
"With approximately 1,200 miles of roads, it's a process. I do think in general ... our roads are in better condition than some of the counties I've visited."
Tennessee has 93,251 miles of public roads.
Here are some quick facts about Tennessee's infrastructure, based on the ASCE's report:
* An estimated $1.4 billion is needed to improve wastewater infrastructure over the next two decades in Tennessee.
* As a result of driving on roads that need repair, the average Tennessee motorist spent $182 in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.
* Schools in Tennessee have more than $3 billion in infrastructure funding needs.