City: Sinkholes will prompt road repair

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

George Wallace Drive may have sinkholes, and now the City of Troy must decide how to repair it.

Consulting engineer Buck Watkins documented sinkholes above a degrading metal culvert pipe between Second Avenue and Easy Streets Apartments. He said there was no way of knowing the extent of the damage to George Wallace Drive until the asphalt is removed and the pipe replaced.

“It’s hard to tell if there is sinkhole damage,” Watkins said Tuesday after meeting with the city council. “The truth of the matter is, I don’t know what’s going on under there.”

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Watkins said metal pipes are not a good option for the acidic soil found in Pike County. The sand carried through the pipes by the backwater damages the inside of the pipes and the acidic soil corrodes the exterior of the pipes. Backfill seeps from the corroding pipes into the surrounding area. The water causes the sinkholes.

Before meeting with the council, Watkins visited the site in question and documented 36-inch deep sinkholes above the culvert.

He was able to manually break off a piece of the pipe and take it to the meeting as evidence, leaving city council members with decisions to make about the repairs.

Mayor Jason Reeves said the project could wait until the summer months, but the road must be repaired. “If we don’t do anything, the road is going to collapse,” he said.

Watkins said the road would have to close for 30 to 45 days while the pipe is replaced with a cement pipe.

“It would be closed just south of Second Avenue,” he said, with the closure extending the Easy Street area.

Watkins said when work was previously done on George Wallace Drive, the road was closed and traffic redirected. “The traveling public just used Franklin Drive and Park Street,” he said.

However, the prospect of closing one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares for more than month concerned council members. Councilman Greg Meeks asked if it was possible to fix the road without completely closing the street. “That’s one of the busiest streets in the city,” he said.

While Watkins said he did not prepare an estimate for leaving the road open during the project, he estimated it would take twice as long to complete and cost at least 20 to 25 percent more than his initial $205,000 estimate.

Councilman John Witherington suggested bidding the project out with each alternative and the council agreed that seeing the costs and timelines of both would be beneficial.

“It’s definitely something the council’s going to want to see numbers on,” Reeves said.

“If you move all the traffic onto two lanes, as many as 3,000 cars, on two lanes of traffic for that amount of time, is it even viable? We need it bid shutting the road down and replacing it and need it bid half at a time.”

The city council took no action on the matter Tuesday.

During the meeting, the council also:

• Approved a resolution requesting legislation for draft beer for on-premise consumption;

• Approved a resolution allowing Reeves to enter into third-party transportation agreements with PATS without first bringing each of them to the city council; and

• Approved a resolution allowing Reeves to negotiate and enter into water meter agreements with mobile home parks without bringing them to the city council for approval.