Soak Creek has been named Tennessee's newest Scenic River—the first to earn the designation in 15 years. A tributary of the Piney River, this free-flowing creek serves as critical habitat for the iconic species of the Cumberland Plateau and provides a wide range of outdoor opportunities for all ages as it winds through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea Counties and along the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. After unanimous bipartisan approval by the State House and Senate earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation naming Soak Creek one of 15 waterways in the state designated as Scenic Rivers. The designation helps to formalize the work local landowners, nonprofit groups and state agencies have done to ensure the public has access to this pristine natural treasure for generations to come.
Cooperation between civil engineers, contractors, local county officials, TDEC Water Pollution Control, TDOT Hydraulics Division, Scenic Rivers and local landowners is proving to show higher quality long-term environmental results like this one along a stretch of the Scenic Roaring River.
Meetings between the TDOT environmental, bridge design and ROW divisions, TDEC Natural Areas Division and Scenic Rivers Administrator resulted in TDOT establishing practices and TDEC providing a document identifying preferred native indigenous plant species for bridge and road projects along Tennessee Scenic Rivers.
Conversations with TDOT resulted in an agreement that when possible the open rail bridge design would be considered on bridges crossing state scenic rivers.