Area state highways rated among worst in Tennessee

Editor's Note:  New information from TDOT shows the state resurfaced the "poor" sections of Highway 11E in Washington County last year after collecting the pavement data.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - Just a day after state lawmakers approved Governor Bill Haslam's gas tax hike to fund road transportation projects, an analysis of the state's recently finalized Pavement Management Report shows Northeast Tennessee is home to some of the worst rated stretches of road in Tennessee.

The annual report grades more than 15,000 stretches of state roads, giving each a rating, also known as a Pavement Quality Index. The PQI is an overall indication of a road's health, according to public records.

While the report shows Tennessee's roads are in good condition on average, the report also identified 16 stretches of state highway in our region considered in poor condition. Nine of the 16 sections in question are in Washington County, including five along SR34/Highway 11E. According to TDOT records, "Poor condition indicates high-priority occurrences that need to be addressed soon in order to preserve the soundness of the roadway."

Despite their low ratings, of the 16 stretches of roads considered poor, only four are currently funded for resurfacing this year, according to TDOT records. All four sections in question are along SR 353 in Washington County. Highway 11E is not even on TDOT's most recent resurfacing list.

"All of our districts are currently evaluating and compiling their lists for this year and this roadway will be evaluated along with all other routes in this area as the list is being compiled," TDOT Community Relations Officer Mark Nagi said.

Another 215 stretches of local state highways are rated a step above at fair. Those are roads, according to the annual report, the state needs to monitor.

Although the pavement data helps TDOT decide the best kind of treatment for roads in need, Nagi said the numbers are only part of the process of determining which highways need to be at the top of the resurfacing list.

"We get in touch with our maintenance supervisors that are stationed throughout the State of Tennessee and they let us know what the state routes and interstates in their areas that are seeing the most issues, seeing the most potholes," Nagi said. "Those roadways are not the way we want them to be."

The pavement report shows the state is, on average, exceeding its expectations for pavement quality. Nagi said more funds, approved by lawmakers Wednesday, are needed for road and bridge projects, in addition to maintenance.

"Maintenance isn't just resurfacing," he said. "The Maintenance Division is responsible for the administration of several statewide programs to ensure the state roadway network and highway assets are maintained at a high level using cost effective measures."

Nagi added that "specific responsibilities include: establishing standard operating maintenance procedures and policies, winter maintenance operations, development of an annual roadway maintenance budget, emergency management planning, pavement management, interagency and city maintenance agreements, development of roadway maintenance contracts and facility maintenance. The increased funding will help with all of those responsibilities. And getting roads resurfaced sooner than later will allow for pavement conditions to stay at the levels we want instead of falling behind and having to play catch up."

While some Washington County roads at the bottom of the list, a section of Interstate 81 in Washington County ranks in the top ten for best PQI in the state with a near perfect score.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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