Work to start on sinkhole on 21 Aug. 12
by Shane Dunaway
TALLADEGA COUNTY – Representatives from the Alabama Department of Transportation informed local residents Alabama 21 will officially be closed for 21 days starting Aug. 12 during an open meeting held at the Talladega County E911 Center Tuesday.

The closure announcement relates directly to the $9.4 million sinkhole repair project awarded by ALDOT to Newell Road Builders of Hope Hull July 12.

Division Engineer DeJarvis Leonard led the discussion, briefing nearly a dozen residents who live within close proximity of two sinkholes located on Alabama 21 between Whiting Road and Orangevale Road.

“You will see contractors working prior to that date placing signs for the detour,” Leonard said. “We will be using Plant Road and County 235 directing thru traffic to U.S. 280.”

Leonard confirmed previous reports that construction crews would be working around the clock to ensure the road would not be closed longer than the allotted time.

After explaining the closure process, Leonard opened the session to take in residents’ comments and concerns.

“We wanted to make sure we met with you face-to-face to give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the project,” Leonard said.

James Moore, a local resident, asked what would happen to the water in the water table if they seal up the sinkhole using boulders and concrete.

“We’re not going all the way down into the water table,” Leonard replied. “We’re going to create a bridge effect by going down to the lowest point we can start and work our way back up to the top.”

Concerned citizen Barbara Moore expressed several apprehensions about the project. She first asked Leonard and the panel of ALDOT employees why patching the road hasn’t worked in the past.

“The rainwater isn’t what is causing the sinkhole condition to worsen,” Leonard said. “The groundwater from underneath comes up and erodes the soil, causing the road to sink. We’re going to fix that by building up from the bottom in a cone shape and use that to bridge the gap.”

Moore followed with a question about the detours and asked what was keeping larger trucks from using her driveway, a happening she adamantly opposed.

According to ALDOT representative Steve Haynes, the issue will be resolved by placing barriers on the southbound lane of Alabama 21 at Whiting Road and barriers on the northbound lane of Alabama 21 at Orangevale Road.

Moore closed with a question regarding utilities, a question she had posed previously at the June 24 County Commission meeting.

“We do not anticipate any issues with utilities at this point,” Leonard said. “If any issues arise, we have contingencies in place. We are working closely with the utility companies to make sure we’re prepared in that situation.”

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