Motorist-slowing devices fall to Council

By Thomas Wilson

   Elizabethton City Council will determine whether to install "traffic-calming devices" and lower speed limits on sections of six city streets. The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission voted unanimously at its October meeting to recommend adopting traffic devices and lower speed limits to curb potential safety hazards at these specified roadways:
   * West C Street between Bemberg Avenue and Eisenhour Street
   * West Riverside Drive between Ash Street and North Roan Street
   * Locust Street between Brandon and Race streets
  * Bluefield Avenue between Carriger Avenue and Siam Road
   * Riverview Drive (Siam Road) between Ingram Street and Siam Road
   * Race Street between North Pine Street and North Lynn Avenue.
   The city's department of Planning and Development presented the plan after receiving petitions signed by the required 67 percent of residents along the designated streets. City Director of Planning David Ornduff said in October that the calming devices could take the form of more four-way stops at intersections, additional pedestrian cross walks, increased police patrols or speed bumps.
   The Planning Commission's recommendation puts the decision of placement and types of devices squarely in the hands of the Council.
   Council members are also expected to hear an update regarding a water transmission line connected to the Hampton Spring, which lies in a precarious position on a dilapidated bridge. J.R. Wauford & Co., Engineering Consultants has requested permission from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to relocate the existing 16-inch water transmission line from the old U.S. Highway 19E bridge to the western side of George Brown Bridge on U.S. Highway 19E.
   The existing line was constructed under emergency conditions after a 14-inch water line from the Hampton Spring source was washed away in the flood of 1998.
   The line supplies the city with roughly 30 percent of its potable water. If the line was damaged preventing service, the city's supply of potable water to customers would be seriously effected.
   Wauford & Co. was contracted by the Council to oversee the line's relocation in September. City officials met with representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in October to examine the line.
   In a letter to TDOT's Bridge Division last month, the firm estimates the length of the line would extend 400 feet and weigh 90 pounds per foot. The company's construction proposal would install hangers underneath the deck of the bridge to support the line. The transmission line would be insulated and hangers would be installed at each joint - roughly every 18 to 20 feet - to support the pipeline.
   In an evaluation of the bridge in June 2002, the engineering firm found the bridge had begun a rapid deterioration, was somewhat unstable, "and could possibly fall" in the immediate future. The firm found a 46-foot portion of the bridge's western wall and a bridge deck had fallen into the river. The bridge surface near the western wall has chipped away and is partially closed off with wire fencing.
   The city has submitted an application for a $500,000 loan from the State Revolving Fund loan program to fund the water line's relocation. City officials had discussed two other options of boring beneath the riverbed and laying the line underground or doing an "open cut" into the river and placing the line in the riverbed. However, both of those options required significant and time-consuming approval from TDEC and TVA due to the encroachment into the Doe River.