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One lane to open Saturday on Highway 68 in Rhea County after setback

Image: WTVC

The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that one lane on State Route 68 will permanently reopen on Saturday morning for light traffic only.

Cars, pickup trucks and school buses will be allowed to travel on the road.

Crews have been able to completely fix the cracks in the road and start stabilizing it. Although there has been progress, there have been some roadblocks as well.

"They're starting to haul a lot of that out of here," said Rhea County Executive George Thacker.

"So now we're getting to the core of where we need to be."

As stabilizing the road began, water continued to flow down the side of the mountain earlier this week, causing a setback.

"Apparently the road gave away some more," Thacker said.

"So they had to go back and do a little more work than they thought they had to do."

Gena Hassler, a pharmacist in Spring City, delivers medicine to customers on Grand View Mountain. The original setback was not good news.

"It takes me 55 minutes each way," she said.

It was once an eight to 10 minute commute. Some people drive for up to three hours on alternate routes and it is tiring.

"I'm exhausted for one thing," Hassler said.

"I have to get up an hour earlier every morning and then driving the roads we have to drive. They're treacherous."

Thacker has surveyed the damage daily. This part of the road had problems within the last year. A permanent fix is the main priority.

"This is as far as I'm concerned is the most important thing we need to get taken care of in Rhea County right now because this is hurting so many people," he said.

The estimate for the completion and reopening of the entire road remains to be for some time in May.

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