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Problems surface with road work
Loose gravel 4.jpg
As the sign indicates, there’s plenty of loose gravel on Smithville Highway. The gravel is causing damage to vehicles, especially when it’s kicked up by 18-wheelers.

A resurfacing project on Smithville Highway has resulted in headaches for some motorists who have seen their vehicles damaged due to flying gravel.


According to TDOT, any damage claims will be handled by the paving company’s insurance provider, which can be reached at (931) 455-4749.


The resurfacing project under way on Highway 56, commonly called Smithville Highway, is from north of Pike Hill Road to near the DeKalb County line. Tinsley Asphalt of Estill Springs is the contractor on the 9-mile, $1.9 million project. Completion is slated by the end of September.


According to TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn, Smithville Highway is being resurfaced with a process known as chip seal and overlay.


It involves applying liquid asphalt and small gravel, sometimes known as a tar and chip method, after which the contractor paves over the chip seal with a layer of regular asphalt. 


“Unfortunately, while Tinsley Asphalt company was performing the chip seal portion of the process, the liquid asphalt did not fully cure and harden before they swept away any loose gravel and traffic was allowed to drive on it, resulting in some damage to vehicles from the loose gravel,” said Flynn. “TDOT has always had a good relationship with Tinsley Asphalt and we expect that to continue into the future. Unfortunately, there are times that something like this occurs on a project, and there are methods in place to deal with these occurrences.”


Motorists say the main trouble with loose gravel getting thrown into windshields and causing damage to paint jobs comes when passing large vehicles such as 18-wheelers.