UNION COUNTY, Ill. -- Crews have begun road work on a stretch of Highway 127, just south of Alto Pass, that has been closed for nearly two weeks. The closure followed rainstorms that caused the pavement to subside.
Ben Wills, Supervising Field Engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), says the stretch of pavement is a temporary fix from about a year and a half ago. It was expected to hold up until a permanent solution could be approved.
"We have an embankment failure or slope failure," Wills explains. "What we're seeing right now is some January and February rain have really accelerated the slide."
The problem is not visible but is connected to a layer of rock underneath the pavement. "There’s no river system. There’s not a major creek, so it’s being driven by water underground 25-30 feet deep," he says.
IDOT closed the road when it sank eight inches in just one week, being too dangerous for drivers. It could be sinking at even quicker rate now.
Crews are working on an emergency repair to have the road reopened in 6-8 weeks. "What we'll be doing is building a temporary runaround. It will be controlled by temporary signals," Wills details.
Alto Pass resident Michael Jeremiah says it hasn't been too much of a problem for him because he normally shops in Anna, but can see how it would be an inconvenience for others.
"I imagine some people it might affect them more that go to Cape (Girardeau) often or anybody that would work in cape," Jeremiah explains.
As a permanent fix, crews plan to build a structural wall to keep the road from shifting any further. The work is expected to start in the Fall.
Mills also warns drivers to follow the detour route and not go past the barriers blocking off 127 as it's very dangerous. He adds to have patients as crews work hard to get the road reopened.