Whitfield County Public Works repairing sinkhole in Underwood road
Work continues on the sinkhole Tuesday. Photo by Derek Eledge/WRCBtv.com
WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
Whitfield County Public Works crews are repairing what was supposed to be a small hole in the road. But when crews got to work on Underwood Road Monday, they discovered a long, slow washout hidden under the pavement.
Fortunately, they discovered the situation before the road collapsed into what turned out to be a 5-foot-deep sinkhole.
The road will be closed for the rest of this week for repairs, according to Public Works Director DeWayne Hunt. All utilities need to be marked before work begins. Public Works crews already cleared the area where a the sinkhole had formed on Tuesday. Hunt said if drivers didn't notice a small visible crack in pavement, the damage could have been a lot worse.
"I think we were within several days of a possible collapse, because once the asphalt started separating, and it really didn't have any structural stability," Hunt said, "It was going to go sometime in the near future."
Hunt believes the problem could have been aided by a leak in the 12-inch water main along the east side of the road through the years, and water may have followed stump holes and roots wrapped around the water main. Various tunnels lead away from the hole on the inlet end.
"It's hard to say exactly what caused it, but it's there and we'll have it fixed by the end of the week," Hunt said.
County crews plan to repair the problem by replacing the metal drain pipe with a concrete pipe, then repave that section of Underwood, with the road slated to be open again by Friday, Sept. 19 or sooner. That's good news for Big John's Treat Shoppe. The restaurant is down the road about half of a mile from the sinkhole and part of that road is now closed to traffic.
"That is kind of a crazy thing to happen because it's just right up the road," said waitress Nicole Densmore, "But we would love to see people out here still."
Densmore said the BBQ joint is one of Whitfield County's hidden gems. She doesn't want the road closure to slow down business. "I hope that it's okay, I can understand if we would be slow if people can't make it out," Densmore said, "But in the grand scheme I hope we are just as busy as we usually are."
The road had been repaved last year, but the damage was not discovered at that time since it was hidden under the ground and there were no signs of a problem.
As far as checking for future sinkholes, the road department said there is no way to predict those until one creates a weak spot in the pavement.
This sinkhole does not necessarily mean another one is forming nearby.