Drilling for the first shaft to support the new U.S. Highway 231 bridges in Alabama began early June 1, and work is expected to continue around the clock, seven days a week, until the twin bridges spanning the landslide area on Brindlee Mountain are complete.
The Alabama DOT is targeting the highway to be reopened to vehicle traffic by Dec. 2, 2020, a date earlier than first projected last April.
The major commuter and freight highway, south of Huntsville, began developing cracks in the pavement, followed by an underground landslide on Feb. 13. Engineers from the ADOT blamed the failure on heavy rain that had been inundating the area for months.
Brasfield and Gorrie of Birmingham was awarded the $14.6 million contract for the second phase of the repair between Lacey's Spring and Morgan City. In addition, the contractor could be paid incentives of up to $2.5 million for early completion.
The landslide that affected U.S. 231 took out approximately 1,000 ft. in both the northbound and southbound directions of the four-lane highway. Reed Contracting concluded the removal of about 225,000 cu. yds. of earth and loose rock in May.
With the excavation ending, the stage was set for Brasfield and Gorrie to begin its bridge construction. The company is contracted to build 32 caissons, each 9.4 ft. wide. These steel and concreted drilled shafts will be socketed 15 ft. into the solid rock beneath the slide to anchor the bridge abutments and piers, which will form stable foundations on which to construct the bridges.
Each span will be about 1,000 ft. long and 44 ft. wide, accommodating two 12-ft. lanes with 10-ft. shoulders. The bridges will tie into the existing roadway following minor reconstruction of the roadway approaches.
The ALDOT's updated timeline is good news for area drivers that depend on U.S. 231 for travel in the Huntsville metro area. The portion of the roadway under construction is located just south of the Tennessee River in a largely rural and hilly area of the state.