Was I-65 Sinkhole Really A Sinkhole? Maybe Not…

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - A hole opened up late last week on Interstate 65 in Morgan County. Workers quickly called it a sinkhole. It backed up interstate traffic last Friday near Hartselle. At one point cars were backed up all the way to the Priceville exit, a distance of 7 miles.

But Wednesday, state geologists arrived at the site to identify the exact cause of the problem. WHNT News 19 learned it might not have been an actual sinkhole after all.

Highway department crews feared the worst when they first saw the growing hole in the pavement here on I-65 last Friday. It took hours to fill it in and reopen the highway for holiday traffic. But now state officials are back at the site trying to determine if this was really a sinkhole after all. They've brought two drilling rigs to take core samples from deep beneath the highway.

"They'll drill down to a certain depth until they hit solid rock and whatever they pull up that'll determine, that'll tell us what type of material is underneath the roadbed," according to Darnell Spencer, Alabama Department of Transportation.

"The bottom of this is 33.5, 33.5 feet," said ALDOT worker Dwight Turner pointing at core samples just taken from beneath the highway surface.

"We're going to go to the depth of 43.5," said ALDOT worker Barry Dingler.

Workers carefully catalouged the drilling samples that will be sent to a state lab for testing. However the state's Chief Geologist, Brannon McDonald, was already at the site. He declined to speak on camera but told us from what he's seen thus far, it appears all of the recent rain the area may have contributed to the ground simply giving way.

The workers say they'll dig a series of wells under the roadway here to try to determine what caused the ground to give way here last week, and what needs to be done to keep it from happening again.

Meanwhile in Decatur workers continue to repair another road issue along old Highway 31 in the Trinity area. Workers believed it too was a sinkhole. It turned out to be a ditch that washed out during a recent storm. Workers replaced the pipe under the roadway and they expect to re-open the road Thursday.