Wilcox County: SR 112 open following flood damage repair
TIFTON – Georgia Department of Transportation today finished flood damage repairs on State Route (SR) 112 in Wilcox County and reopened the road.
Motorists now have a section of SR 112 that rides well, is unlikely to flood again and features guardrail for driver safety. They no longer have to detour. The road was closed from Rebecca in Turner County to the junction of SR 233 in Wilcox County.
Heavy rain caused the March 5 collapse of about a 250-foot section of the road south of Rochelle at Mill Pond. Some of the road and shoulder outside the breach also was damaged for a total of about 1,500 feet. District Maintenance Engineer Scott Chambers said the collapse was one of the largest he’s seen on a state route in Southwest Georgia.
“Most of the time it’s just a pipe washed out and isn’t much wider than the drainage structure itself but this was a full-fledged breach,” he said.
The labor-intensive project was the sole work of Georgia DOT employees. They built an earth dam on the west side of the collapse to prevent additional water from flowing downstream. They used pumps to remove water and pulled stumps and other debris from the muck.
The Department procured an estimated 8,000 cubic yards of dirt from a nearby property owner to refill the breach. The dirt had to be air dried because it was saturated from rain and wet dirt doesn’t provide a solid foundation for road building, Chambers said.
The washout was about 600 feet south of where drainage pipes carry Mill Creek under SR 112. After a review by GDOT hydraulic engineers, additional pipes were installed at the breach to serve as relief drainage and prevent water from rising as high as it did in March. Employees installed four lines of 60-inch pipe and built stone aprons on each end to prevent erosion. Then road building got under way.
When the guardrail order was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department used what it had in stock and borrowed from the southeast district to expedite opening the road.
Work went on as the pandemic worsened and the governor’s office implemented more stringent safety guidelines. The Department is an essential business and work never stopped, but the pandemic presented a new set of challenges not usually seen on construction jobs.
“It made it tougher with social distancing and not being able to work shoulder to shoulder,” Chambers said. It also slowed the work pace because all equipment, including hand tools, was disinfected at the beginning and end of the day. A water cooler provided a portable hand wash station and face masks were distributed to employees.
“I’m incredibly proud of our employees for rising to the challenge, not only for getting the road ready to open so quickly, but working under the conditions imposed on us by COVID-19,” Chambers said.
The estimated cost of repairs is $1.4 million in materials, equipment and labor. That’s a cost savings compared to hiring an outside contractor for an emergency repair.