Surprise! Another Truck Flips and Blocks I 40 Eastbound in Roane County

Submitted by WhitesCreek on June 9, 2014 - 7:17am.

I have that headline saved as stock so I don't have to type it in every time a truck flips. We're on track for one flip a week this summer. TDOT says they've done a lot to I40 to reduce wrecks. It appears that there is a lot left to do. Accident prone I40 places a huge burden on Roane County roads and motorists. I would think there are highway modifications that need to be made but I'm wondering if a review of procedures wouldn't be in order to see if things could be cleared up more quickly when a wreck happens.


A significant part of the burden...

... rests on the truckers. They absolutely will not heed the warning signs approaching that grade and curves. With their "communications skills" you can bet if there were habitually a speed trap or something similar within a few hundred feet of a particular mile marker, they'd know it in a 3-state radius and all act like angels. Of course, we don't like speed traps cause they're bad.

RB

WhitesCreek's picture
Well of course, however...

What is it about this particular stretch of road that flips a truck that often? With the money that's been spent why hasn't the problem been eliminated? I wonder what the cost to Roane County really is each year?

Several factors...

One significant factor is the geologic instability of that section of roadway. Some history may help. The interstate, from a geologic standpoint, shouldn't have crossed the mountain where it does. Back when there was a Democrat dynasty in Nashville, and members of that dynasty living and doing business in Roane County, and even though the person in the Governor's office changed every so often, it was still essentially the same, and those Roane County folks ran all the patronage jobs in the area, and controlled where a lot of state work got done... those same folks owned a stretch of land up on Walden's Ridge. It worked out real well to sell some to the state for the new interstate right of way. And to help with some jobs for some Roane Countians...

Well, that kind of history is a bell that can't be un-rung. I don't think anybody believes there is a way to afford re-routing I-40 at this point in time or this point in geography. The state has spent millions with various contractors trying to improve the stability of the interstate in that section coming down the mountain. It'a almost literally like pouring money in a hole.

Bottom line is - the interstate will stay where it is. As long as it stays where it is, those areas of it will be unstable and dangerous. So other solutions will be necessary. Other solutions may or may not work.

BTW - the real point is not whether the party in power was a D or an R. The point is it was a very long-lived dynasty, of which some very powerful Roane Countians were a big part.

RB

Fix the instability on the

Fix the instability on the mountain? Heck, we can't even get the on ramp going west fixed at the Midtown interchange. It's been torn up for months, if not over a year, and nobody seems to care. It appears to be another instance of someone having to get hurt in an accident before any action will be taken. A mess like that wouldn't be tolerated for a week in Knoxville. Seems like it always takes the media getting involved to get something done in Roane County. I know work has been done to try to fix the ramp several times but you can't just put up a barricade with flashing lights and go home. Well... maybe in Roane County you can.

WhitesCreek's picture
The midtown west bound

The midtown west bound entrance ramp on I40 is a study in not fixing a problem. They keep cutting and patching instead of stabilizing the substrate to an adequate depth and then repaving. I suspect a half way measure on the mountain side as well.

WhitesCreek's picture
This from the Road Dept:

On Sept. 12th of last year, the state sent us this email about the ramp at Midtown..

" Mr. Tommy Slaton, Regional Maintenance Supervisor: Thank you for your inquiry concerning the ramp at Exit 350. I am sure that it seems this ramp is under continuous construction, but in fact the ramp is experiencing a very rare problem. There is a geologic deposit located under the ramp that swells whenever ground water is introduced to the deposit. Crews have worked to excavate the deposit, put measures in place to eliminate the water to the deposit, followed several recommendations from our Geotechnical Department and with each project the ramp continues to rise with the swelling of the mineral deposit. This is a very rare occurrence, the only one l know of in 24 counties in Region 1. Geotechnical crews are still working and taking samples to determine what action will eliminate the swelling nature of the natural substance under the roadway. Until they have a suitable remedy, the ramp will continue to have the detour in place."

There's no conflict between that statement and my assessment. A civil engineer has to take into account the substrate below a road surface. My question is what was the response to the State? Removing water flow into a substrate is not that complicated, if that's what is really going on. I suspect the real situation is simpler than suggested, but not having seen any core data I can't say. (I actually wonder if there actually is any core data). At any rate, relieving hydrostatic pressure is not that hard but it can't be done in halfway measure. I suspect it is a money issue with the problem of having wasted a good bit on a non fix already. Both sides of the westbound interchange have serious problems.

The two situations are similar but different

A couple of years ago I was at a meeting that included the world's foremost expert on active seismic zones east of San Andreas. He tells me that it's not a money issue at the area of I40 crossing Walden's Ridge. No amount of money will make that area stable. There are some things money won't fix, and a poorly placed road bed with regards to where geologic formations such as tectonic plates and faults are is one of those things. This area is chock full of faults.

I don't know if the west bound entrance ramp at Exit 350 is one of those or not. But I suspect we should listen to the real experts in the field and let their input guide our opinions when we decide whom to blame.

RB

WhitesCreek's picture
The I 40 problem is not due

The I 40 problem is not due to fault lines. What you have is an uplift (the plateau ridge) with the eroded face creating the slope that the road was built upon. Over time it continues to flow downhill. The area of the problem continues to settle at geologic pace but with some spots moving faster than others. I suspect there is a water issue there as well.

The Midtown exit is a hydrostatic problem, much like what would happen if you built your basement slab directly on the ground instead of excavating a french drain around it and having sufficient gravel bed to let water drain away.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.