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Solutions presented to fix rock falls on Highway 321

By: Samantha Saracino Email
By: Samantha Saracino Email

Numerous rock falls on one stretch of highway prompts officials to come up with possible solutions. The rock slides have caused a lot of issues for drivers on Highway 321 in Floyd and Johnson County.

Highway officials came up with numerous options, but eventually narrowed it down to two. They say the other options would have affected drivers. The two options they presented tonight would keep the existing Highway 321 open the entire time.

This was the result of a rock fall on Highway 321 in May 2010, an issue that has caused problems for many years now.

"There have been many major rock falls shutting the whole road down and we've been very fortunate that we haven't had no fatalities or major injuries on this road as many rock falls that we've had," said Doug Wright, a section engineer who works on the highway.

Many local people who travel the road often say the falling rocks make the road very unsafe.

"When they do come down, they come down in huge chunks, clear across the road and it's quite dangerous," said Ron Schul, who lives in the area.

But highway officials have come up with two options to fix this, focusing on the stretch of 321 from Porter Elementary to just north of the BSCTC entrance. Both would create a new roadway.

"Both options climb the hill. It gets us up out of the existing traffic and both of these options would allow us to construct this under traffic. The road would not have to be shut down," said John Michael Johnson, the Project Manager for District 12.

There is just one difference between the two. One would take out the Christian Appalachian Project headquarters, the other would not. Both options would cost about 15 million dollars to complete.

"It's not a safe highway so safety would be the biggest benefit to the traveling public," Johnson explained.

Funding from legislature is needed to get the green light on this project. Officials say it would take about 5 years to complete, start to finish.

Many people at the meeting seemed to be in favor of the changes. Most just want the road to be safe.

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