ALDOT to drill problem area along Alabama 21
by Emily Adams
TALLADEGA COUNTY – Drivers can expect lane closures along Alabama 21 South in the coming weeks as the Alabama Department of Transportation conducts geotechnical analysis of an apparent sinkhole.

Beginning Tuesday and lasting for an expected three weeks, ALDOT will be drilling near Mile Marker 225, between Mardisville and Winterboro, to complete various ground tests. District 5 Manager Stephen Blair said the test drills should lead to a solution for an area that has caused recurring problems during the last year.

“They will have a drill rig out there to take some cores and see what the ground looks like,” Blair said. “They’re looking for where they hit rock and any possible voids in the ground. Hopefully the drilling is going to tell us exactly what we have out there, because we’re not really sure at this point.”

Both lanes of the highway have repeatedly shifted, particularly after heavy rains, since around April 2011 despite being resurfaced several times, Blair said. Fourth Division Engineer DeJarvis Leonard said in February that ALDOT suspects sinkhole activity, a fairly common issue throughout the county.

Blair said there are other possible explanations, but the drilling would provide more concrete answers.

“It will be up to the division and the central office to determine the next steps based on what they find drilling, so it’s hard to say what the fix would be or how long it will take,” he said. “This is an issue we’ve been fighting for a while, so I am looking forward to a permanent solution, and hopefully what they’re about to do will help accomplish that.”

Around the first of May is the expected completion date of the testing, Blair said; however, it could be done sooner or later depending on what is found.

“Some of that time won’t involve lane closure, but we will start Tuesday with the outside southbound lane and eventually swap over to the inside,” he said.

Workers will be present from about 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the project, he said.

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