Clinch School to stay on four-day week until Dec. 19 due to mudslide repairs

Jeff Bobo • Nov 19, 2019 at 11:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County's rural Clinch School will remain on a four-day week for the rest of the semester due to the possibility that the two main roads used to access the Clinch community from Rogersville will still be closed.

Route 66-N and Route 70-N were both closed last February as a result of mudslides that isolated the K-12 Clinch School from the rest of the county.

The detour between Rogersville and Clinch accesses Route 31 in Mooresburg, but that adds 45 minutes to the trip, which was a problem for most of Clinch School’s faculty and staff.

In September, the Hawkins County Board of Education agreed to implement a four-day school week for Clinch that was to expire after the first week in December.

On Nov. 12, the Hawkins County Board of Education voted to extend that four-day week until the semester ends on Thursday, Dec. 19.

The latest update from TDOT

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi told the Times News on Thursday that both lanes of Route 70-N are expected to be open on Thursday, Dec. 5.

“Rock buttress fill continues at the large slide area and is currently about 10 feet from being complete,” Nagi said. “Placement of base stone and remaining roadway work is scheduled for the last week of November. The contractor is progressing towards the roadway opening date of Thursday, Dec. 5, with other drainage work remaining outside of the travel lanes to be completed after opening.”

Both lanes of Route 66-N are still on track to be opened in mid- to late December, Nagi added.

BOE extends the four-day week

Although the roads may be reopened before Dec. 19, Hawkins County board members noted that past completion deadlines have been missed, and bad weather could possibly move the road opening dates back again.

Board members agreed that it was easier just to keep the four-day week through the end of the semester, and then revisit Clinch’s schedule at the December meeting, when there will hopefully be more information available from TDOT.

Why are the roads closed?

Last February was one of the wettest months in recent memory for Hawkins County, and as a result there were mudslides and roads washed out across the county. 

The Route 70-N slide occurred during the early morning of Feb. 21 on a section of the highway between Clinch Valley Road and Route 94 (Pressmens Home Road) near Cave Springs Road.

It was dark and raining, and visibility on the mountain was poor when the Route 70 slide occurred.

One man was killed, and another badly injured when they drove off the missing section of highway before authorities were able to get there and close the road. 

The $8.7 million repair project on Route 70-N was awarded to Charles Blalock and Sons Inc.

Summers and Taylor Inc. was awarded a $15.1 million contract to repair the Route 66-N slide, which occurred between New Life Road and Clinch Valley Road during another heavy rain on Feb. 24.