Block Hole Project Dubbed "Black" Hole Project Because of Pot Holes
By: Amy Jacquin
(Cape Girardeau County, MO)--Work to repair Diversion Channel erosion is causing highway erosion in Southeast Missouri. It's called the 'Block Hole Project'. But some people living along the stretch of potholes have dubbed it the "black" hole project.
The problem lies where the Castor River flows into, and becomes, the Diversion channel. The Castor River is too swift, and water rushes into the Channel too fast, causing erosion.
"It's cutting out so bad on the South side, and will get into the main line levy before long," says Donald Bond, the project contractor.
So the Army Corp of Engineers is raising the bottom of the Castor River, to slow the flow and stop erosion. The hired contractor is hauling a bunch of rock to do the job. And those heavy trucks are tearing up Highway U faster than the Missouri Department of Transportation can fix it.
"You have to watch and be ready to slow down, so you don't hit a hole," says Melvin Amalunke, a resident along Highway U. "And at night you may run up on one without realizing it, one that just developed that day."
Mo-Dot pointed out a pothole just fixed last week, but already gaping open again! And even as repair work continues, more heavy trucks come rumbling by.
"It's frustrating to the crews, because there are other places that need work, too," says Mo-Dot employee Stan Johnson. "But we're spending lots of time and energy on the same place."
Bond admits to hiring additional haulers, because the job was bigger than anticipated. But he says he's doing it legally.
"It's not an overweight problem," explains Bond. "I just think the highway wasn't in too good a shape when we started."
"The highway wasn't built to handle the kind of loads it's seeing now," agrees Johnson. "And they are running legal loads. As long as it's legal weight there's not much we can do to keep them off."
So they continue to follow and repair... leaving tax payers stuck in the middle, and travelers facing a bumpy road ahead.
"Once they quit hauling, we can get it fixed once and for all," Johnson says.