Sinkhole shuts down part of Chief Ladiga Trail in Jacksonville

Published: Feb. 26, 2016 at 5:49 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2016 at 7:13 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC

CALHOUN COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A small sinkhole has closed two miles of east Alabama's Chief Ladiga Trail.

The week's heavy rains resulted in the hole, some 15 feet deep at its deepest point, making it impassable at a point just a half mile north of Warren Drive in Jacksonville, at the Weaver City Limits.

It's also about a mile and a half south of Jacksonville High School.

Signage on the yellow caution tape put up at the street crossing segment of that part of the trail directs bicyclists and pedestrians to a detour.

This comes on a major tourism attraction in Calhoun County, just as spring bicycling season is around the corner.

"Well, you're always concerned, especially with spring coming on, the traffic picks up, you know," Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said.

"This is the connection to Jacksonville to Weaver, and you sort of have Weaver blocked by this too, you know. You can't get north," Smith added.

Smith and a number of geotech engineers and cycling enthusiasts visited the damaged area Friday to study it and consider what needed to be done.

They looked at surrounding terrain, how to fill the hole and how to repair the pavement. They even considered the best way to get vehicles and machinery to the area, not the easiest thing to do on a bicycle-only trail.

The Chief Ladiga Trail is a cycling trail that begins at the Anniston/Weaver city limits and runs to the Georgia state line in north Cleburne County. There, it connects to the Silver Comet trail which heads southeast to Atlanta.

Both the Chief Ladiga Trail and the Silver Comet Trail were built atop an abandoned rail bed as part of the national "Rails to Trails" program.

The Silver Comet, in fact, is named after a 1930s era passenger train route. They've both become major tourism attractions, and just this week, Anniston city officials held a public hearing on expanding the trail through their city.

Mayor Smith said work should begin next week with some drilling to study the depth of the ground under the trail. He doesn't know how long it will take but said he hopes to have it finished before or during spring cycling season.

"This is a pretty significant sinkhole, so we want to make sure when we repair it, we do it right," Smith said.

Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved.