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Multiple accidents on icy roads prompts questions to county road department

By Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

The high volume of weather related accidents reported during the last snowfall on Wednesday, March 6, has some county residents wondering whether or not the county road department is doing enough to prevent these incidents.
Sheriff Mike Reece reported that there were five automobile accidents on Wednesday, March 6 that were classified as weather related. One of the primary roads in question was the old Highway 91, now referred to as The Divide Road, which used to be the main source of transportation heading from Mountain City to Laurel Bloomery. Several residents reported that the road was in impassible condition on Wednesday and throughout this entire winter season. The Tomahawk contacted Johnson County Road Superintendant Tony Jennings to gain insight into these complaints.
Jennings reported that the county’s attempt to keep gravel atop the icier sections of The Divide Road has garnered some complaints. Several residents that live off The Divide Road reported that as a result of the gravel use, their vehicles were suffering cracks in their windshields. Due to these complaints, the county decreased the volume of gravel they were using on The Divide Road. Jennings also informed The Tomahawk that the county has never had salt for use in treating the icy roadways. It is only state roads that receive salt and therefore secondary or county roads are often more treacherous. Jennings said that if a resident is concerned with the condition of their roadway, they should call the road department and make them aware of the situation.

Another concern reported by residents is that the excessive gravel used by the county could pose threats to motorcyclists in the upcoming season. Road Superintendent Jennings sees this as a non-issue because he says that by the time the motorcycle season begins, the normal flow of traffic will have knocked off the majority of the gravel used during the wintery months. Jennings did however say that if a resident feels that there is still excessive gravel present, they should call the road department and a street sweeper will be deployed.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.