Harco Road reopened after mine subsidence shuts it down

SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Harco Road has been reopened for drivers as of May 23, according to the Saline County Highway Department.

In early May, the American Coal company mined underneath the Middle Fork of the Saline River on Harco Road.

Now, a large section of the roadway north and south of the bridge are giving way. And the 200-foot single span bridge is also showing signs of shifting with the subsidence in the area.

Saline County Highway Engineer Jeff Jones says they had a bridge engineer look at the bridge and road.

The bridge and road both need minor repairs. They already have a contractor lined up to fix damage to the road.

They anticipate that work to be done this week to the road and the bridge.

At this time the tentative opening is set for next Monday or Tuesday.

"Right now the west side of the bridge is 14-inches lower then the right side," said Saline County Engineer Jeff Jones on May 9. "How much more it's going to shift we do not know at this time. But we think the steel I-beam construction of the bridge is helping hold it together at this time."

The roadway though isn't holding up very well. There are large cracks and gaps criss-crossing the road. And there are even some holes forming in the pavement.

Even with the detour signs and barricades some drivers are finding it difficult to navigate around the closed road.

"I turned off Route 13 to go to my friend's house, and get down here and the road is closed," said Deliela Burk of Pope County. "And I went around the detour sign and get down here and the whole bridge is closed. And it doesn't tell you how to get to Galatia. No detours there's nothing, I mean if you are going to but up a detour at least tell us where to go."

The frustration with the closed road is also being felt by the Shelton's who live near the barricaded road at the intersection of Harco Road and Johnston City Road.

"The way it's affecting us is we're the direction givers," said Pat Shelton. "There is no marked detour for people coming down Harco Road trying to get to Route 34. So I average about a dozen people a day stopping and knocking on our door asking for directions on how to get somewhere. Or how to get around the detour."

But the caved in road is also causing the Shelton's an even bigger problem then unwanted visitors trying to find their way around the detour.

"We've been wanting to move farther south in Illinois. And at this time we've been put off by the realtors. They say our home has lost 60% of it's value with the road caving in. And that we should wait until the roads fixed, or things get better."

But when the road and bridge will reopen is still unknown at this time. And once it does get the approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation there is going to have be extensive work done on the roadway and possible even replacing the bridge.

"Depending on how much more the road and bridge settle and the damages to both, we could be looking at a million dollars at least," said Jones. "And American Coal has assured us that they will reimburse the county for all of it's cost associated with the subsidence."

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