Pittsboro, NC – Heavy rains in June and July delayed repairs of the the sinkhole on Lystra Church Road in Chatham County. The repair work was completed and the road re-opened on Friday, July 15.
The stretch of the road on a causeway over Jordan Lake was closed in January when a sinkhole developed because of the failure of underground culverts that were installed in the early 1970’s. The project required the excavation of two 60-inch corrugated metal pipes under the road and replacing them with one 12-foot diameter aluminum pipe. A 16-inch underground water line owned by Chatham County also had to be relocated. Work on the $2.2 million repair contract began on March 21.
At times, contractor Fred Smith Company of Raleigh worked around the clock to complete the work as quickly as possible. Heavy rains in June and July delayed the final stages of the work, especially the paving. Division Eight Construction Engineer John Olinger says the project was unique for a number of reasons. First, plans had to be developed due to the depth of the pipes, having to relocate the existing 16-inch waterline that was also in the causeway, and working adjacent to Jordan Lake.
15,000 cubic yards of roadway embankment had to be excavated in order to remove and replace the two 60-inch pipes that were 30 feet below the roadway surface. Once the new pipe was in place, the embankment had to be replaced, roadway had to be paved and guardrail replaced. Olinger says traffic could not be maintained on the roadway during the project as the existing pipes were 30 feet deep. Also, the existing 16″ waterline had to be kept “live” at all times. Power lines and phone lines were also in conflict.
Crews also dealt with very tight working conditions since Jordan Lake is on both sides of the road and the contractor had to install dams to work in dry conditions below the water surface elevation to put in the new pipe.