Lane closures expected on Hwy. 31 as crews repair road after Mon - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Lane closures expected on Hwy. 31 as crews repair road after Monday's mudslide

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Photo via the Vestavia Hills Police Department shows the aftermath of a mudslide on Highway 31, Monday, April 7, 2014. Photo via the Vestavia Hills Police Department shows the aftermath of a mudslide on Highway 31, Monday, April 7, 2014.

Expect to see some lane closures in Homewood along U.S. 31 over the next few weeks. Alabama Department of Transportation workers are cleaning up and securing the land where a small landslide happened amidst Monday's heavy rains.

ALDOT has brought in a geologist from Montgomery to examine the slope and make sure it is secure. The analysis has been done and now, that person is formulating a plan for long-term stabilization. Engineer Brian Davis says he doesn't have a timeline on when the report will be finalized.

As for right now, crews are cutting trees, getting debris off U.S. 31 and repairing two water leaks that were found. Davis says right now it's unclear if the landslide caused the leaks or if those water leaks made the ground even heavier, thus causing the mud and rocks to slide.

Concrete barriers will be put on the outside of the northbound lanes. Davis says these will protect drivers in case anything else slides off the slope. There's also the giant boulders that fell. Over the
next week, crews will have to jack hammer them into pieces that are small enough to be picked up by the department's equipment.

There will be lane closures. Those closures will reportedly not affect rush hour traffic. They will be during the midday hours, according to Davis.

Geotechnical engineer Charles Burgin, of the company Bhate, says the ground is fairly stable there. Below about three feet of the topsoil is shale and sandrock. The landslide seen Monday is said to be the top layer of dirt becoming too heavy and turning loose. The ground, roots and trees gave way, but the rock below is still very stable and secure. However, that doesn't mean another landslide can't happen.

In fact, Burgin says this steep slope has seen land failures before. Also, the area around Red Mountain is designated by the city of Birmingham as "slide prone" so anyone wanting to build anything or dig into the ground has to go through a serious approval process.

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