Northern District Highway officials reported late last Thursday (June 10) evening that a quarter mile section of Highway 41 which continues into the city of Pontotoc as South Main Street has been closed because of a highway foundation slide.
The closed section of highway extends from Pine Ridge Drive (at St. Christopher Catholic Church) southward to the four way stop where Highways 41, Highway 15 south and the Highway 15 Bypass intersect south of town.
Northern District Maintenance Engineer Matt Dunn surveyed the road damage Thursday afternoon and announced the road closure to ensure drivers’ safety.
“The decision was made to close that section because of the additional rain expected (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) over next couple of days and with traffic running over it, we didn’t want someone in the middle of the night to drive through there and the road bed to be gone or have dropped a foot or more,” Dunn said.
“The safety of the traveling public is our first and foremost goal. Hopefully it will dry up soon and we can get some equipment in there to assess everything and then get it fixed.”
The highway is expected to be closed for at least several weeks and possibly longer depending on the extent of roadbed damage and weather conditions, Dunn said.
“First thing we’re having to do is have the utilities located,” Dunn said. “We know the main gas line for Pontotoc and the power lines that feed Pontotoc and the hospital are there, and we’re not sure if there are more fiber optics or telephone lines. Once we get those located we will do some excavation.”
“We haven’t come up with a final plan yet on how we will arrest the slide. We’re not sure how far down the slide is so we will have to do some exploration to figure out where the slide plane is . Once we determine that we’ll know how deep to build a shear key.
“Basically the shear key will be built out of riprap to a certain depth to arrest the slide and then we’ll rebuild the slope. And we’ll at least have to partially rebuild the southbound lane.”
“The slide is occurring on the right of way and off both, so with utilities involved and private property involved it’s not simple. And we have to be cautious of the utility lines running through there. We also want to make the most cost efficient decision. We don’t want to do a knee jerk repair and then it slide again and be back to square one. It’ll take some engineering work up front to determine what the root cause is so we can make the right call on the repair.”
Dunn said that detour signs are in place to help out of town drivers find their way around the trouble. Highway 41 traffic can utilize East Tenth Street or Liberty Street to re-gain access to South Main Street (which is technically Highway 41).