Repairs to Hwy. 26 begin this week

Roadwork is underway on Hwy. 26 where an Aug. 30 washout occurred leaving a 50-ft. wide and 30-ft. deep chasm on the heavily traveled highway. Completion of the $1.8 million repair job is expected in early winter 2021.

Dump trucks were lined up Tuesday morning, with bulldozers and track hoes removing thousands of tons of “bad material” from the site of the August 30, road collapse on Hwy. 26 near the Crossroads United Methodist Church. The work was the beginning of emergency repairs to State Hwy. 26, following a tragic road collapse nearly six weeks ago.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) awarded a $1.8 million contract to T.L. Wallace Construction, of Columbia, on Thursday, October 7, through an emergency contract let.

Hurricane Ida dumped 11 or more inches of rain in the area in the preceding 48 hours and a heavy thunderstorm was in progress when a large landslide occurred. This caused the roadway to washout at about 10 p.m. that Monday evening. Seven vehicles plunged into the approximately 50 feet wide and 30 feet deep chasm before traffic could be stopped and the highway barricaded. Three people died because of the collapse with nine others suffering severe to minor injuries.

“Our engineers surveyed the damage and worked with geotechnical experts Repairs to Hwy. 26 begin this week and were able to determine the most efficient plan of action,” said Commissioner Tom King, Southern Transportation District.

MDOT’s design includes the use of a drainage blanket; this means the contractor will install geotextile fabric, bring rock in and install a perforated pipe in order to capture the groundwater in the area. They will then place additional rock over that and layer additional geotextile fabric over it. Soil will be placed on top of the geotextile fabric, along with a rock base and 8 inches of asphalt.

“MDOT has expedited everything according to this project, based on accumulating information, to design, to getting ready to let a contract and then to have a contractor come in and do the work expeditiously, that’s what our goal is,” said Kelly Castleberry, District 6 Engineer.

Detours will remain in place until the project is complete, which includes State Route 57 south to Interstate 10 and SR 57 north to U.S. Highway 98.

Once SR 26 is reopened, crews will repave the local detour route used during the closure.

This project is expected to wrap up early 2022. SR 26 is expected to be open early winter 2021

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