Vidalia hole patched up quickly

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 5, 2009

VIDALIA — What was projected to be a weeks-long closure of a major Vidalia thoroughfare ended up being only days.

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — which is also Louisiana 131 — was closed Wednesday after a large void was discovered under the roadway where there had been a foundation before.

The discovery was made after truckers reported feeling a dip in the road.

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When state and city crews broke through the cement roadway Thursday, they discovered a hole that was 8-feet deep, 40-feet long and 24-feet wide, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Area Engineer Chris Roussell said.

Original estimates for how long the road would be closed for repairs were between two weeks and a month, but Roussell said decisions about what to do were made quickly and work was able to proceed.

“We spent most of the morning (Thursday) gathering resources, and we started the work at 10 a.m. and finished at 8:30 p.m.,” he said.

That work included tearing up the existing roadway and filling the void with 450 cubic yards of crushed limestone.

The City of Vidalia worked in conjunction with the DOTD, purchasing the limestone at a cost of $12,000, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

While the roadway is open, the area where the void once was will not be paved for another six weeks to allow the limestone to form a solid base for the road, Roussell said.

“We will continue to monitor it,” he said. “We will be checking it daily and either adding stone or grading it so people can continue to use the road.”

When the limestone has formed a good base, the DOTD will likely asphalt over it, and the plans are for the department to eventually reconcrete the roadway, Roussell said.

The void under the roadway was apparently formed when an abandoned sewer line failed, undermining and washing away the road’s foundation.

City of Vidalia sewer crews will eventually fill in the abandoned line, Utility Manager Mark Morace said at the time the void was discovered.