Engineers’ report expected this week on cause of bizarre shift

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Andalusia utility officials expect two engineering reports this week that should provide insight into why the moved recently near Westgate Plaza.

On Sat., Aug. 17, a portion of the ground behind Westgate Plaza just dropped several feet, disrupting utility service as workers put in temporary water lines, sewage accommodations, and reset power poles.

“It was really a bad situation out there,” Mayor Earl Johnson, who also serves as superintendent of utilities, told the Andalusia Utilities Board Tuesday. “We’ve asked CDG to do some preliminary work as to what caused that to happen. We asked for another engineer, a soil specialist from Goodwyn Mills and Cawood also to do some investigations.

“We expect reports this week,” Johnson said. “That will give us a preliminary idea of why that happened, and it maybe that we have to do some more in-depth investigation.”

It is important to know, he said, because there is significant cost in moving utility lines. It also needs to be determined if further shifting is expected.

The property, board members recalled, was originally a large gully, but was built up when fill dirt was brought in after the bypass was constructed.

“At some point, we have to say it was caused by this, that or the other, and decide how put it back together,” Johnson said. “Right now, it’s in a temporary state.”

Micah Blair, who is acting head of the water department, said the area looked as if it had shifted about three inches on Friday afternoon, Aug. 16. But at some point Saturday morning, after continued rains, it dropped straight down, six or eight feet.

In the utility easement behind the shopping center, there is a six-inch sewerage line, and a six-inch water line, as well as a gas line.

Johnson said the city’s insurance company also has been on the scene to evaluate the damages.