Senator Watson And Rep. Hazlewood Ask TDOT To Move Swiftly On Highway 127 Road Project Up Signal Mountain

Monday, July 16, 2018

State Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) have asked the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to move swiftly on the Highway 127 project leading up Signal Mountain. In a sternly-worded letter, the lawmakers asked TDOT Commissioner John Schroer to prioritize the road project due to further deterioration of the road.

“Let us be clear - this is a priority project to us,” said Senator Watson and Rep. Hazlewood in the letter.  “We believe that moving forward with a long-term solution has reached a critical stage. Recent heavy rains and rocks falling onto cars and across the roadway have only served to heighten our uneasiness with this area of the road.”

In the letter, they pointed out similarities between the current condition of the road with the section of Highway 68 which collapsed in Rhea County earlier this year.  “The environmental circumstances surrounding the Highway 68 collapse appeared eerily similar to the area of Highway 127 leading up Signal Mountain,” they said. 

They also pointed to the inclusion of the road project as a key factor for their support of the IMPROVE Act passed by the General Assembly last year.  “Highway 127 was discussed extensively with TDOT and the Administration during the Improve Act negotiations and we shared the concerns that the City of Signal Mountain and many residents had expressed to us regarding the potential failure of this vital transportation route,” the letter continued.

The letter concluded by asking TDOT for continued discussion on how to best move this project forward.

Senator Watson is chairman of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee in the Tennessee Senate, while Rep. Hazlewood is a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives. The lawmakers represent Signal Mountain in Senate District 09 and House District 27.

Full text of the letter is below:

Mr. John Schroer, Commissioner

Tennessee Department of Transportation

James K. Polk Building, Suite 700

505 Deaderick Street

Nashville, Tennessee 37243

 

Dear Commissioner Schroer:

 

We recently received the updated report on the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) projects in our House and Senate districts.  Thank you for this information.  It is very useful to us as we discuss the State’s spending on infrastructure like roads and bridges throughout our area.

 

The Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate passed the “Improve Act” in 2017.  We were both supporters of the amended version of the Act.  Part of our rationale for support was the inclusion of improvements to Highway 127 leading up Signal Mountain particularly the area that has received a number of TDOT repairs due to excessive water runoff and cracks in the roadway.

Our concerns escalated when the road on Highway 68 collapsed between Spring City and Grandview in April of this year.  The environmental circumstances surrounding the Highway 68 collapse “…heavy rains caused cracks to open in the road,” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, April 24, 2018), appeared eerily similar to the area of Highway 127 leading up Signal Mountain.

We are pleased, of course, that the Highway 127 project is included in the TDOT report.  What is disappointing to us is there appears to have been no change in the status of the project. 

Let us be clear – this is a priority project to us. 

Highway 127 was discussed extensively with TDOT and the Administration during the ‘Improve Act” negotiations and we shared the concerns that the City of Signal Mountain and many residents had expressed to us regarding the potential failure of this vital transportation route.

Certainly TDOT’s regular inspection of the area is appreciated; however, like the Highway 68 collapse, “While TDOT was evaluating the cracks [on Highway 68], the roadway broke off and fell…,” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, April 24, 2018), the inspections do not eliminate the risk of failure.  We believe that moving forward with a long-term solution has reached a critical stage.  Recent heavy rains with rocks falling onto cars and across the roadway have only served to heighten our uneasiness with this area of the road.

We look forward to the opportunity to engage with you and your team in a discussion on how we can best move this project forward.

 

Sincerely,

 

Patsy Hazlewood

TN State Representative

Bo Watson

TN State Senator



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