Dickson City Administrator issues statement about “Dickson Sinkhole”

Dickson City Administrator Rydell Wesson released a statement Monday about the culvert collapse site that has been labeled as the as the “Dickson Sinkhole” by many the community. The following is Wesson’s statement:

The City of Dickson has become the target of unjustified criticism by a few members of the public who do not fully understand the protocols involved with the collapse of a culvert adjacent to Highway 46 South. As City Administrator, I want to clearly state for the citizens the City’s position so you will not have to rely on second- or third-hand information or rumors. For 18 months there have been speculation, accusations and a whole lot of misinformation, especially on social media, regarding the surface ground collapse near the intersection with Lewis Hollow Road.

The City of Dickson maintains that you, the citizens, taxpayers and residents, are not financially responsible for maintaining or repairing infrastructure or for improvements on property the City does not own.

Records show that in 1968 the owner of the property on the west side of Highway 46 hired a private company to install a corrugated metal pipe to carry water along the natural drainage flow. Fill dirt was then placed to raise the elevation so the property could be used for commercial development. Over the last 51 years, that pipe has exceeded its life expectancy. The collapse of the pipe was accelerated when the property owner removed the asphalt over the pipe during construction of his new building and installed water and sewer lines and other improvements, which allowed water to infiltrate the soil and increase the weight on the pipe.

Facts About the Culvert Collapse:

  • This is not a sinkhole. A sinkhole is a naturally occurring collapse of surface layer most often caused by karst processes that involve the deterioration of water-soluble bedrock, such as limestone. The hole on the west side of Highway 46 was caused by deterioration of a 51-year-old corrugated metal pipe that allowed the soil above to collapse into the pipe, blocking the flow of water and undermining the surface layer.
  • The City of Dickson and its residents have no ownership of a culvert that was installed on State-owned and private property by a private contractor hired by the owner of the property.
  • The State of Tennessee has owned the right-of-way along Highway 46 since before the area was annexed by the City of Dickson in 1974. Part of the culvert is in the right-of-way owned by the State of Tennessee and part is on private property.
  • The area of the collapse is on right-of-way owned by the State of Tennessee.
  • The City of Dickson does not own property or right-of-way on the west side of Highway 46. Neither the collapse nor any part of the culvert on the west side of Highway 46 is on the City’s property.
  • Taxpayer funds may not be used for the benefit of private individuals or properties.
  • The City of Dickson also has been damaged as a result of the collapse of the culvert. The increased runoff during heavy rains has washed out areas along Barbeque Road, threatening to undermine the pavement. The Public Works Department has made repeated repairs to the area and has placed rip rap in an attempt to stop further damage to the road. Additionally, the City has devoted many hours of labor to protecting motorists by redirecting traffic during times of flooding of Highway 46 caused by the collapse.
  • The City of Dickson has facilitated multiple meetings with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the private property owners to resolve the situation. There have been numerous incorrect and incomplete reports of the results of those meetings on social media from people who were not involved. Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. also has reached out to Gov. Bill Lee seeking intervention in what he believes is a growing threat to the safety of the residents of Dickson.

SUMMARY

The City of Dickson does not own the culvert. The citizens of the City are not responsible for using their tax dollars to maintain improvements to private infrastructure for the benefit of private property owners, whether it is culverts, buildings or other improvements.