SURGOINSVILLE — The Hawkins County Industrial Development Board agreed Thursday to ask the Hawkins County Commission to include the estimated $1.2 million Phipps Bend Road paving project among its 2021-22 budget expenditures.
The project covers all of Phipps Bend Road between Highway 11-W in Surgoinsville south to the end of the road in front of the new Miyake Forging plant.
Calvin Clifton with the engineering firm of Mattern and Craig told the IDB Thursday the road needs new guardrails in some locations, and the surface is in bad shape, which will lead to problems at the base of the road.
“Overall the road is very stable,” Clifton said. “It was built to handle heavy truck traffic when the TVA originally built it. But the surface asphalt is getting in really poor condition, which is going to allow water to infiltrate, get down into the base, and cause structural failure to the road.”
About a year and a half ago, Clifton and IDB member Kerry Jackson surveyed that road and estimated the cost of repaving at around $1.1 million. Clifton said Thursday that inflation probably puts that cost closer to $1.2 million today.
“We have looked at various sources of funding to repave the road, and quite frankly we’ve exhausted all those opportunities,” Clifton said. “I even went to the federal government and talked to them about (paving for the purpose of) accessing federal property, as TVA still owns property down there. They basically said, that’s a very nice try but that’s not going to happen.
“Short of getting that on the work plan for the rural planning organization, there’s not a lot of means to get that road repaved, short of the county paying for it out of pocket.”
Seeking funding through the MPO/RPO process would involve competing for funds with local municipalities. To focus $1.2 million of MPO/RPO funding on that one road would take that funding away from all those other municipalities, Clifton noted.
“If we could identify funding through this (federal stimulus) Relief Act or other sources, that would be a good use of the funds and bring that road up to a good standard that would probably hold up for 10-15 years,” Clifton said. “Maybe longer depending on the level of traffic.”
IDB Chairman Larry Elkins said he and IDB Coordinator Rebecca Baker are working on compiling a traffic study on the number of trucks and passenger vehicles that use Phipps Bend Road. Elkins estimated that at least 100 tractor-trailers use Phipps Bend Road every day.
Elkins noted that the road was most recently paved more than 20 years ago in the late 1990s. It was initially built in the mid-1970s by the TVA in preparation for construction of a nuclear power plant there. When the power plant was canceled, TVA donated the property for use as an industrial park, and the state paved it in the mid-1980s.
The county repaved it in the late 1990s.
The paving request will be submitted to the county commission as part of the IDB’s proposed 2021-22 budget. Elkins noted that none of the side roads would be included in that project.
The commission’s Budget Committee general begins budget deliberations in May, although an ad hoc panel that was formed to make recommendations on the spending of federal stimulus funds will begin meeting in April.