NCDOT looks to permanently fix Sanders Road sinkhole

Updated: Jul. 13, 2017 at 4:58 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Starting Monday, July 17, NCDOT officials are hoping to permanently fix a 70-foot sinkhole that has been plaguing motorists on Sanders Road near Bellamy Elementary School for years.

Crews have repaired the asphalt above the sinkhole numerous times. However, those repairs were just temporary due to the geology of the soil at the site.

This time, NCDOT crews will employ a new technique, which has seen success in other states, to fill the sinkhole.

The soil at the sinkhole location is what is called fractured limestone and is composed of layers of loose sand and clay, which make it extremely porous and spongy. A special type of grout will be pumped into the ground at multiple locations to fill the holes, or voids, and form a bridge over the fractured limestone and stabilize the layers of loose soil.

A similar approach has been used successfully in Florida and Tennessee.

"For years, this sinkhole has posed an engineering and geologic challenge, and imposed a hardship on our community," Division 3 Engineer Karen Collette said. "We are pleased that we may have finally found a solution."

The sinkhole repair is especially important to residents of the neighborhoods adjacent to Sanders Road. Many are looking forward to seeing the sinkhole repaired and the entire road being drivable again.

"As a resident of this community for several years, I am glad that the sinkhole issue is being addressed, both for my own safety and the safety of others," resident Cookie Armstrong said.

The parents and teachers who travel back and forth to Bellamy Elementary will benefit from the repair come the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

"We are very grateful for the efforts and continued cooperation of DOT in coordinating their work on the sinkhole to not interfere with school activities at Bellamy Elementary School," said Eddie Anderson, assistant superintendent of operations for New Hanover County Schools. "They have made several repairs and we are excited that a permanent fix is now underway."

To allow the work to safely take place, Sanders Road will be closed to traffic between Motts Village Road and Bellamy Elementary for about three weeks. Transportation officials recommend that motorists use Cathay Road throughout the duration of the closure, and use caution while driving near the work zone.

The cost of the repair work is estimated at $652,900 and will be completed by Aug. 12.

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