Hwy 231:
The Permanent Fix

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For the Highway 231 Hotline,
call 256-289-2089

STate of emergency declared by governor ivey

We're moving urgently to reopen Hwy 231 as soon as possible

In February of 2020, the Department of Transportation closed a portion of the north and southbound lanes on US Highway 231 near Laceys Spring, AL. Due to record rainfall, a large landslide and substantial cracks formed in the road which made it unsafe for traffic to utilize the roadway. Governor Kay Ivey has declared a State of Emergency that helps to fix this issue as soon as possible.

Mother Nature was responsible for creating this problem, but the Alabama Department of Transportation is committed to working towards a solution as quickly and safely as possible. This website is dedicated to providing you information about how to stay most informed on progress and detours in real time while this project is completed. To stay informed click "Get Updates," follow Hwy 231 Fix on social media, and sign up for our periodic emails by filling out the form below.
Get Updates

HWy 231 Hotline: 256-289-2089

we're Working quickly to fix your commute

For your convenience, below are the official Hwy 231 detours

Northbound commercial traffic is detoured to AL-67 to Interstate 65.
Southbound commercial traffic is detoured to AL-36 to AL-67.
Northbound passenger traffic is detoured to Union Hill Road to AL-36.
Southbound passenger traffic is detoured to AL-36 to Union Hill Road.

News and Media Gallery

Work continues on fixing Hwy 231 in Morgan COunty

WHNT 19  |  3/25/2020

Plan, timeline to be released Thursday

The Arab Tribune  |  3/10/2020

Big excavation project underway for Hwy 231, ALDOT revealing plans this week

WHNT 19  |  3/10/2020

No quick fix for closed US 231

Decatur Daily  |  3/10/2020

ALDOT: "Certainly a major slide" on shifting Hwy 231

WAAY 31  |  3/6/2020

ALDOT close to finalizing repair plan for US 231

Sand Mountain  |  3/6/2020

ALDOT expects to have plan for fixing Highway 231 soon

WHNT 19  |  3/4/2020

hwy 231 hotline 256-289-2089

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:
Why is U.S. 231 closed?
A:
U.S. 231 between Hill Road and Huskey Mountain Road on Brindlee Mountain in Morgan County was closed in February when large cracks appeared in the pavement after heavy rainfall triggered movement of a landslide deep underground, about 50 feet below the road surface. Both the northbound and southbound roadways are closed, and all pavement has been removed from the roughly 1,000-foot areas impacted by the slide.
Q:
Why can’t you just rebuild the road?
A:
The real issue is not that the pavement cracked, but that both roadways sit atop a sizeable landslide. A simple rebuild would remain vulnerable unless the slide is somehow mitigated. Simply excavating to the depth of the slide, refilling it and reconstructing the road would provide no guarantee against reoccurrence.
Q:
What is the plan to repair it?
A:
ALDOT plans to construct two 1,000-foot bridges crossing the slide area on the existing roadway alignments. These bridges will stand on thick piers anchored in the solid bedrock beneath the landslide. Contractors are already at work removing a large amount of rock and soil to significantly reduce the mass of the landslide.
Q:
Shouldn’t the road just be moved to a new location to make sure it’s safe?
A:
Moving the road to an entirely new location would be impractical and cost-prohibitive and would take years to complete. The plan ALDOT is pursuing will permanently address the slide area, making U.S. 231 safe for motorists, and do so within a relatively brief timeframe, considering the magnitude of the problem. ALDOT’s plan focuses on addressing the roughly 1,000 feet of affected roadway, whereas rerouting the road would require new construction of possibly miles of roadway. That would involve time-consuming surveying and plotting of a new route, acquiring right of way, and obtaining environmental approvals, all before design and construction could even begin.
Q:
Is the road going to be safe? How do we know it won’t happen again?
A:
ALDOT engineers and geotechnical consultants have reviewed various options to find a solution that is not only safe, but permanent. Constructing bridges on drilled shafts will allow traffic to overpass the slide on structures that remain unaffected by future slide activity.
Q:
I heard the road might be moved slightly eastward?
A:
Engineers considered realigning the roadways through the slide area to place both in an area where the colluvial layer is shallower, meaning bedrock is nearer to the surface. This plan was not pursued for several reasons. Despite the shallower colluvium, the area of the proposed alignment (around the current site of the northbound roadway) was nevertheless heavily impacted by the recent slide activity and would remain susceptible to future movement. This approach would still have required construction of deep-foundation structures to mitigate the slide, and would have also involved blasting and/or drilling of a nearby rock bluff, potential impacts to residences in the area, and time-consuming construction of additional roadway and retaining walls (in addition to any walls constructed to retain the slide) to reconnect to the existing roadways, which are at different elevations.
Q:
How long is it going to take to fix?
A:
Contractors are already excavating the slide area, which is anticipated to take about two months. ALDOT aims to open bids for the bridge construction in early May and issue notice to proceed to the winning contractor within about a week. The current estimate is that bridge construction will take about a year, though proposals from contractors as well as potential incentives/disincentives for early completion could reduce that timeframe.  
Q:
Why not focus on construction of the northbound bridge first and allow traffic to use that bridge while the southbound bridge is constructed?
A:
Early discussions with industry professionals indicate that it will take contractors about the same length of time to complete one bridge as it will to construct both bridges simultaneously. The total closure of the highway will also speed construction by giving the contractor free rein over the construction zone, rather than working around traffic and maintaining traffic control.
Q:
What are the best detour routes for me to take?
A:
Click here to view detours.
Q:
Didn’t this same issue occur last year?
A:
More limited cracking occurred in February 2019. The damage to the roadway in both events was the result of the landslide being activated by heavy rainfall, but the damage in February 2020 was far more extensive, necessitating long-term closure of the highway. The 2019 crack, which primarily affected the outside southbound lane, was able to be temporarily repaired by filling it and repaving the road surface.
Q:
What is this repair going to cost and who is going to pay for it?
A:
The estimated cost is about $18 million, but the actual cost won’t be known until bids are received from contractors. ALDOT anticipates much of the repair cost being covered by federal aid, which exists for emergencies such as this. The Federal Highway Administration on March 11 released $5 million in “quick release” aid. This early round of emergency funds is a starting point for ALDOT to address damages, including those to U.S. 231, caused by the wettest winter on record. We anticipate that additional federal emergency funds will be made available as part of the ongoing federal assistance process.
Q:
Why didn’t you fix it permanently the first time?
A:
Measures to address the landslide were not undertaken in 2019 because the problem had yet to be fully identified. More in-depth repairs to the damaged pavement were not made at that time because, without a way to fix the underlying issue, the possibility of further subterranean movement meant potential repeat damage to the road. Realizing that an underlying geotechnical issue was at work, ALDOT installed instruments to monitor the area and gain a better understanding of the extent, cause, and ways to potentially address the problem. While some additional minor repairs were necessary as the new pavement over the crack settled, the instruments installed on-site detected very little movement during the remainder of 2019. If ALDOT had more information about the problem in February 2019, the prescribed repair then would have been the same as it is today.
Q:
What steps have been taken and will be taken to fast track this project?
A:
ALDOT is handling this project under emergency procedures and taking every available measure to reduce the time involved every step of the way — from design, to bidding, to construction. Repair work began the day after the road was closed, when ALDOT contracted Reed Contracting to begin removing pavement from the slide area. Since then, ALDOT has secured Reed’s services to continue with excavation of the slide, the first step of the solution, while bridge design is taking place. ALDOT evaluated various proposals to mitigate the slide to find the one that could be designed and constructed within the shortest timeframe. The bridge plan was chosen not only because it offers the highest level of safety, but also because it is an efficient and permanent fix. ALDOT is seeking FHWA approval for expedited bidding to accelerate the process of receiving bids, awarding the project and notifying the winning contractor to proceed. ALDOT anticipates inclusion of a substantial incentive/disincentive in the contract to motivate the contractor to complete the project as early as possible.
Q:
How can I find out what progress is being made on the repair work?
A:
Please sign up here to receive email updates, and be sure to check back at 231fix.com for more information as the project progresses.  
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