Bullen Valley Road repairs approved

Tracey Wolfe

Grainger Today Editor

RUTLEDGE – Grainger County Commissioners voted Monday to approve repairs to Bullen Valley Road and discussed needed repairs for the now closed Old Renfro Farm Bridge. 

Grainger County Highway Superintendent Charlie McAnally addressed commissioners about the projects during Monday’s commission meeting. He said GeoStabilization International had assessed damage to Bullen Valley Road along the river because the repair work is beyond what the Highway Department can handle with the equipment they have. An estimate was submitted to complete the work for $212,606.25. McAnally said the company is on the state contract so bidding for the project would not be necessary. He said the work would come with a seven-year warranty.

McAnally said funding the project was the only issue.

“I have exhausted every resource that I could find to try and find money to do this,” McAnally said. “I’ve called (Senator Bill) Hagerty. I’ve called (Senator Marsha) Blackburn, (Congressman Tim) Burchett, Soil Conservation, TVA – no response from TVA.”

McAnally said the funding would likely have to come from the (Highway Department’s) fund balance. 

“It’s something that’s going to have to be done or we’re going to have to shut the road down,” he said.

Commissioner Rodney Overbay said, “I thought we were going to move that road over there or something we talked about last year or something. Moving it around or doing something different.”

McAnally said that was something that had been looked into in the early 70s and would cost millions to do today. 

“I can keep trying, but we’re going to have to do something or this road, we’re going to have to shut. It is a highly-traveled road,” McAnally said.

Commissioner James Acuff said, “People are not going to be happy over there if you shut that road down.”

He said the road would have to be shut down for three weeks for repairs to be completed. 

Commissioner Andy Cameron made a motion for repairs to be completed with funds coming from the Highway Department. The motion was seconded by Commissioner James Acuff. It passed in a unanimous vote. 

Commissioner Scott Wynn asked Mayor Mike Byrd to partner with McAnally to try to get TVA involved. 

“They’re not responding because they don’t want to put out no money. So everybody in this room needs to make some phone calls,” Wynn said.

“Can we send them a certified letter and have them appear before the board here? Have our attorney send them a letter?” Commissioner Rodney Overbay asked. 

Commissioner James Acuff suggested adding state and federal elected representatives, and Commissioner Justin Epperson suggested including TWRA. 

“I think what Scott’s saying here is a good idea. Send them a letter, a registered letter or something, have somebody come in here. If not, let’s summons them to the court or whatever we gotta do. Do whatever we need to do to get them in here,” Overbay said. 

Wynn made a motion for the commission to send a letter to TVA, state and federal elected representatives for the district and TWRA, requesting they appear at a county commission meeting to hear the county’s need for funding assistance to repair the road. 

McAnally told commissioners Old Renfro Farm Bridge had failed its inspection and had to be closed, requiring a resident of that road to utilize a temporary access through another resident’s property. He said he has one quote for repairing the bridge for $136,000. He said he would seek other estimates.

He said funds could be used from the county’s bridge fund but the bridge would have to be completely rebuilt in order to do so. Rebuilding the bridge would cost $600,000, McAnally said. He is awaiting an opinion from TDOT as to whether the only repairs needed are to the bridge deck before proceeding.