TDOT enforcing 'Rockfall Management Program'

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The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a program to handle rock falls on highways like the one in Rhea County Tuesday.

The name of the program is "The Rockfall Management Program" and it was implemented in November 2017.

The debris released during a rockfall can vary in size and cause severe problems. There are 2,000 sites that are monitored. 20 of them are in our viewing area.

A rock can strrike a vehicle or person or just create obstructions on the roadways.

These sites have been rated on a scale with from lowest risk to very high risk: a score of Lower than 200 is a site with a "lower risk."

200 to 350 is a moderate risk. 350 to 500 is high risk and greater than 500 is a very high risk site.

17 sites in our viewing area scored as "very high risk" sites, including sites on state routes 2 and 148 in Hamilton County.

Some strategies that TDOT has in mind to reduce rock falls include scaling and trimming, stabilizing a large unstable piece or rock instead of bringing it down or using a rock slope drape to avoid a rockfall onto the roadway.

All of those strategies to prevent or reduce rock falls have to be addressed on cased by case basis. Site conditions and funding are all factors and sometimes, there can be a combination of methods used at the same site.

The rockfall management program is a five-year plan. Rock slopes that have higher risk scores may have to be monitored and evaluated more often than others.

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