ALDOT fast-tracking $8M project to fix sinkholes on Alabama 21
by Shane Dunaway
TALLADEGA COUNTY — Representatives from the Fourth Division of the Alabama Department of Transportation met with local officials at the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency Thursday to discuss an $8 million emergency construction project.

According to Robert Camp, assistant division engineer for ALDOT, the project request was fast-tracked through the Montgomery office.

“The goal is to have a contractor on the ground putting up signs by the end of July,” Camp said. “The contractors will work around the clock to complete the task. We’re anticipating the project will be completed in three to five weeks.”

Camp briefed the nearly 30 people in attendance on the presence of the two sinkholes on Alabama 21 under the southbound lane between the EMA building and Talladega County 238.

“These holes are fairly massive and fairly deep,” Camp said. “They are active to the point that they concern us. It’s only a matter of time until (the sinkholes) get to a point to where we can’t handle them.”

The smaller of the two sinkholes could create what Camp called a “cone-of-influence,” a circular area-of-effect on the surface that stretches an estimated 200 feet in diameter. The larger sinkhole’s “cone-of-influence” could be as wide as 250 feet in diameter.

Camp speculated that both sinkholes could be as deep as 100 feet and there have been past efforts to patch up the surface when it has shown signs of collapsing.

“It’s like a giant funnel and we’re just throwing stuff on top of it,” Camp said.

Steve Haynes, pre-construction engineer for ALDOT, said the construction process would start with excavating the sinkholes and backfilling them with large boulders before restoring the roadway.

For the duration of the project, Alabama 21 will be closed in both directions and barricaded near Grist Mill Road on the southern most point and before Talladega County 238 on the northern most point.

Camp said the detour plan was created to aid truck drivers who frequently use Alabama 21. Truckers approaching 21 from the 275 Bypass will be instructed via signs to take Plant Road to Talladega County 235 and follow Talladega County 235 to U.S. 280 in Childersburg.

Truckers approaching Alabama 21 via U.S. 280 in Sylacauga will be met with warning signs stating Alabama 21 is closed. If the warning signs are ignored, Camp discussed a contingency plan already in place.

“We’re giving them another chance to turn off of Highway 21 at Highway 76 in Winterboro,” he said. “All other roads will be marked for local traffic only. We’re not worried too much about local traffic because I’m sure they’ll know what to do.”

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