Elizabethtown sinkholes pose problem for Town Council

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal
W.K. Dickson's Carter Hubbard talked to Council about the size of the pipes that need replacing.
Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell welcomed two new police officers to the Elizabethtown Police Department.

ELIZABETHTOWN — Some of the roads around Elizabethtown are literally sinking, and stopping up the problem could cost the town nearly $800,000.

“We’ve had sinkholes between MLK and Cypress Street over the last four to five years,” Pat DeVane, assistant town manager, informed board members Monday afternoon. “In some cases, we could see the top of exposed storm drain.”

Though the sinkholes are relatively small, DeVane said, fixing them comes with price tags that continue to pile up. The town is spending $1,000 to $1,500 for each repair and has had seven or eight sinkholes open. Consequently, the town recently enlisted the help of W.K. Dickson to study the problem, which the firm has been doing for approximately seven months.

At issue is one of Elizabethtown’s two main storm pipes, a conduit W.K. Dickson’s Carter Hubbard estimated was 40-50 years old.

“We can’t really explain what happened, but we’re seeing these types of holes about every four feet,” he remarked. “Typically … when putting pipes together, if they bang into each other, it can disrupt the lip and break off over many years with water in and out. What ends up happening is soil flows in and out through the holes and instead of being contained, a void is created above the pipe.”

Hubbard outlined four possibilities before the board:

  • Replacing the entire 48-inch pipe. Doing so would cost roughly $795,000 and the pipe would have a lifespan of 50-60 years.
  • Lining the pipe. This option would result in less road destruction but would have a shorter lifespan — 40-50 years — and cost $744,000.
  • Phasing the replacement. Known problems would be addressed immediately and other sections replaced as problems arise. The immediate cost would be $269,000.
  • Repairing in phases. For a cost of $181,000 holes and cracks could be filled with grout. Since it doesn’t address the real issue, problems could recur at any time.

“This being a (Department of Transportation) intersection, I would recommend talking to DOT to discuss cost sharing,” Hubbard advised.

Town Manager Eddie Madden said he wasn’t aware of any grants, since the drainage involves storm water and not water or sewer. He suggested that since construction costs could be on the verge of a decline, holding off on doing anything and putting the project in next year’s Capital Improvement Plan could be financially advantageous.

“This is obviously not an emergency,” DeVane added. “Some day it’s going to get worse, and you don’t want to get to a point where you have a big storm and lose a big section of the street … we need to keep it on our radar.”

In other business, the board:

— Approved the sale of the police department’s canine, Murphy. According to Police Chief Tony Parrish, Murphy is 7 years old and failed to pass certification.

— Approved a grant agreement with Ken Register Jr. for the demolition of blighted property at 909 Martin Luther King Drive. The $1,500 grant is part of the town’s facade grant program, an effort to motivate property owners to remove blighted and abandoned residential structures in town. The maximum amount allowed under the program is $1,500, which was roughly half of the demolition costs.

— Approved a special use permit request from Keith Harward for the construction of a carport to house an RV at his home on Cromartie Road. One neighbor voiced concern with the aesthetic appeal of the proposal, but Council allowed Harward to move forward because the intended use was in keeping with the town’s ordinances.

— Authorized the Elizabethtown Fire Department to apply to Four County Electric for $300,000 in funding for the department’s new pumper/tanker. The 0 percent, 10-year loan, if awarded, will be a USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant through Four County.

— Extended the Airport Taxiway project by four days due to weather delays.

— Approved W.K. Dickson for the Asset Inventory Project that the council authorized in July. Four engineering firms submitted quotes and were scored based on pre-determined criteria, including familiarity with the area, thoroughness of the proposal, and hourly rate schedule.

So as not to coincide with Labor Day, the council also approved changing next month’s meeting to Sept. 4. Council meets at noon for planning and again at 7 p.m., both in the municipal building.

W.K. Dickson’s Carter Hubbard talked to Council about the size of the pipes that need replacing.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC01256-cr-1.jpgW.K. Dickson’s Carter Hubbard talked to Council about the size of the pipes that need replacing.

Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell welcomed two new police officers to the Elizabethtown Police Department.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC01260-1.jpgElizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell welcomed two new police officers to the Elizabethtown Police Department.

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.