Walls crumbling at the bottom. Holes in the ceiling.

That's among the dilapidated conditions county leaders saw during a tour of the highway department's maintenance garage.

“I’m concerned about the safety of our people and it’s getting to the point where this garage is unsafe,” Cumberland County Highway Superintendent Scott Blaylock said.

“It’s been falling apart for years — and getting worse and worse.”

The county-owned facility on County Garage Rd. is where maintenance is performed on county highway vehicles. It was built in the early 1950s.

Blaylock noted the county supplies the building and the land for the department, which is funded solely through the state’s gasoline tax. Other than the building, the highway department receives no county funding. 

“We have a county building that’s in neglect and is in need of repair,” said Rebecca Stone, 3rd District county commissioner. She and her fellow commissioners on the county's building and grounds committee toured the building with Blaylock last week.

“It’s going to need to be done in phases just like the Archives [building],” she added. “Let us know what your immediate needs are.”

Blaylock is proposing construction of a new garage to be attached to the back of the department's present office building, which he said is leaking and has roofing problems.

The new garage facility he proposes would have doors that open on both sides to enable driving staff to drive the vehicles through and could serve as a storage facility for cold mix and sand.

“We could keep the concrete pad where the maintenance building is now and put one of those oval buildings like TDOT uses for their salt bins,” Blaylock said.

Committee Chairman Wendell Wilson, 6th District, recommended Blaylock consult with the Tennessee Department of Transportation about the cost of the salt bins.

“Draw up a plan, and tell us what you need,” said David Gibson, 4th District commissioner. Tell us what needs to be done at the office building and the new building.”

Blaylock is to return to the committee next month with cost estimates and options. 

Wilson wondered if the facility could move and combine operations with the county vehicle maintenance department. 

“I’m all about trying to save some money, but I don’t think it would work,” Blaylock replied. “You’ve got two different budgets, one from the county and ours through the state. You’d need one person in charge, and I’m just afraid things like parts or other supplies could get mixed, and it’s not a good situation.”

Commissioners Sue York, 1st District; Jim Blalock, 8th District; and Carl MacLeod, 9th District, did not attend the meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com