The effects of a drought are now surfacing on roadways in the Shoals

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. - Drought conditions are not only affecting farmers and fire fighters right now; the effects are starting to spread to our roadways.

Normally a newly paved road would be a blessing for drivers and road crews.

However, County Road 74 in northern Lauderdale County is becoming a headache for County Engineer Eric Hill. The drought is causing cracks to appear and spread.

102716-eric-hill“We fight water typically on the other end of the spectrum all the time. We try to keep water out of the sub-grade, because water under a road is a bad thing. But here we are on the other end of that,” Hill explained.

Hill said the native soil in Lauderdale County is clay. It’s a soil which loves to swell when it’s wet, but shrinks under extreme dryness. When it dries out, hill says it begins to shift underground and cracks form in the pavement. Unfortunately Hill said there is nothing his crews can do to avoid it.

“At this point it is just damage control,” stated Hill. “It’s sealing the cracks to prevent water, when we do get rain, from infiltrating the sub-grade.”

With 1,100 miles of road in Lauderdale County, Hill is praying we get some rain soon so the cracks don’t become widespread.

Another issue Hill said they face is grading dirt roads. He says the soil is so dry there’s little they can do keep them together.