As water recedes, crews begin to deal with rattled roads

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 2:57pm

The floodwaters continued to slip back into a still-swollen Cumberland River Tuesday afternoon, but many state highways remained closed throughout Davidson County and beyond. For most, the retreating waters are a blessing. For state road and highway engineers, they can be a headache.

Though stretches of closed roads and highways will undoubtedly reopen when they emerge from beneath the floodwaters, state engineers worry the sodden embankments and fill slopes along these thoroughfares may fail.

“If the water goes down too terribly fast and you have a saturated fill slope, it can cause your slope to slide out on you,” Tennessee Department of Transportation chief engineer Paul Degges told The City Paper.

Even now, TDOT personnel are deployed across Middle Tennessee, assessing what the retreating waters have revealed about the condition of state roads. Bridge inspection crews have been brought in from East Tennessee to examine area bridges. By tomorrow, contract crews will begin repairing flood damage to state roads.

As of this afternoon, 55 locations along the state roads of Middle Tennessee that have been underwater are open either completely or to at least to one lane. But in other spots, the floodwaters have taken their toll. At Highway 70 along the Harpeth River, the water has retreated from a stretch where, at one time, as much as three-quarters of a mile was submerged. The road will remain closed, however, because much of the fill material has been washed from beneath the bridge. That area will remain closed until it can be replaced.

Highway 100 at the Harpeth River is still underwater, as is Highway 12 near Pecan Valley Road. Southbound Highway 70 between I-40 and McCrory Lane remains submerged, and survey crews have reported a mudslide.

Briley Parkway between Centennial Boulevard and I-40 is flooded, along with the stretch of road between Two Rivers Parkway and Lebanon Road.

In Williamson County, Highway 96 near I-65 is now open. For a map of flooded state roads, visit

For information on Metro road closures, visit