Despite Hard Freezes, Roads In Good Shape; Officials Credit Pre-Winter Paving Push
BY O.J. EARLY
Old man winter hasn't gotten the best of local roads so far, according to local officials.
"I've not seen a lot of change yet in the roads," Greene County Road Superintend David Weems said. "I've not seen anything different than the ordinary so far."
Weems expressed concern earlier this year that roads -- already punished by a record-setting amount of rain in 2013 -- might deteriorate when the winter months arrived.
So far, though, local and state roadways are faring well.
Transportation officials credit a drive to repave and patch pothole-ridded roads in the months before cold weather struck.
"We made a push this fall to patch the interstate and major four lanes in Greene County," said Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) spokesman Mark Nagi. "It seems we are doing the same or better so far this winter."
"I think that helped some," Weems said. "Of course, as many miles as we have, there are some chip-sealed roads that still need some work."
Winter hasn't produced major damage to streets in the Town of Greeneville either, Public Works Director Brad Peters said.
"I don't know that the weather has had that much of a negative effect," Peters said. "Our biggest challenge has been the cold weather and what it has done to the water lines."
One example of pre-winter paving occured on the Asheville Highway. TDOT repaved 5.1 miles of the highly-traveled roadway, beginning at the highway's intersection with West Main Street and ending at the intersection with Allens Bridge Road.
Work began in late-Osctober and ended Nov. 30.
Weems said that chip-sealed roads, which comprise more than 40 percent of the county's roadways, make for the worst driving conditions during the winter.
Chip seal is a type of pavement surface used commonly on rural roads.
An excess amount of rain in 2013 generated an abundance of potholes across the county, Weems said.
The county recorded 59.68 inches of rain last year, the most ever recorded in eight decades by the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville.
Because freezing temperatures expand cracks in the road, Weems feared that county residents would encounter more bumps than normal this winter.
"Part of the ground is still frozen," he said. "Hopefully we'll be lucky and not have a lot of damage."
Winter so far has been mild, although bone-chilling temperatures rattled the county last week.
Temperature's dipped to as low as five below zero, according to the National Weather Service.
"With 1,200 miles of roads ... it's a long process," Weems has said.
He added: "We hope the worst of the winter is over. We'll keep watching the roads to see what happens to them.
"I figure it will be a month or so down the road to see if we had much damage from this cold spell."