Officials in Mentone concerned about roads leading to town being deemed impassible

(Source: WAFF)
Published: Feb. 27, 2019 at 5:52 PM CST
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MENTONE, AL (WAFF) - There is concern in DeKalb County that the town of Mentone may get cut off by road erosion.

So far, alternate routes of Tutwiler Gap and Wade Gap Roads coming into town are now impassible.

On Wednesday, state officials were assessing the main road Highway 117 after cracks were discovered over the weekend.

Closing Highway 117 would cause major problems.

If highway 117 is significantly damaged, this could have a huge impact on schools, tourism, and getting emergency vehicles in and out.

On Wednesday state crews began doing bore tests on Highway 117 on Lookout Mountain after local officials found a 75-foot crack on the roadway over the weekend.

“That’s when we got concerned. It started out as just a crack. By that afternoon, it sunk quite a bit and getting very concerned for safety,” said Mentone Police Chief Gene McKee.

Those tests are expected to give officials a better understanding of damage to the highway.

Meanwhile, alternate routes Tutwiler Gap and Wade Gap are damaged and impassible causing local officials great concern.

“If 117 shuts down then basically right now you’ll have to go to Fort Payne to get to Mentone,” said McKee.

That would also apply to ambulances and school busses as well. And without a direct line into Mentone that could create an economic problem.

“Tourism is our biggest income. I’m looking affecting local businesses you know, restaurants,” said McKee.

Shutting down 117 could also cause a problem with police and fire protection so the fire chief is preparing for mutual aid.

“He’s already making contacts with Fort Payne. He’s planning for worse case scenario,” said McKee.

No word on when those test results will come back.

State officials say Highway 117 is currently safe to travel, but they are continuing to monitor the situation as they await those test results.

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