11/14/06 — U.S. sinkhole plugged

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U.S. sinkhole plugged

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 14, 2006 1:45 PM

The eastbound lanes of the U.S. 70 bypass are open again after rainfall from Tropical Storm Ernesto created a sinkhole under part of the highway about two and a half months ago.

The storm, which began overnight Aug. 31 and continued through Sept. 1, dumped about 4.5 inches of rain in Goldsboro as it made its way across eastern North Carolina. That rain put pressure on the dam at Cogdell's Pond, which is located near the highway between Perkins Mill and Claridge Nursery roads. After the dam broke, water rushed under the eastbound lanes, breaching the road's culvert and destabilizing the highway's structure, North Carolina Department of Transportation Assistant District 3 Engineer Marcus Lee said.

It then took department employees two weeks to clear out debris and assess damage under the eastbound lanes. Most of the box culvert under the lanes had either crumbled or cracked severely, said Steve Davis, the department's bridge maintenance supervisor.

Over the next eight weeks, the department removed the remains of the original box culvert, poured 110 yards of concrete and placed 600 pieces of reinforced steel rods to replace it and built new head walls under the eastbound lanes, Davis said. NCDOT Division maintenance engineer Bobby Lewis said the entire cost of the project hasn't been tabulated yet, but that the work was expected to cost taxpayers about $500,000.

The problem that caused the damage under the eastbound lanes should not be an issue again, Davis said. Property owner Carolyn Compton is not expected to replace the dam at Cogdell's Pond. Instead, floodwaters will be allowed to flow under the highway.

During the 10 weeks of construction, travelers were forced to detour to one of the westbound lanes of U.S. 70 while engineers and other workers repaired the sinkhole. Although there are a few minor projects to complete near the eastbound section of the highway, Davis said those lanes are open.

"There was a lot of hard work and overtime put into this project. We had guys working on Saturday and Sunday," Davis said. "Our goal was to get this done before Thanksgiving. We weren't even sure if we could do it, but we put a lot of extra work into it."