By Brian Livingston / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Work began Monday to repair a sinkhole adjacent to Shirley's Curb Mart in Meridian that has been getting bigger every time it rained. Store owner Elsie Gray was worried that her store would get swallowed up by the ever expanding chasm before work began.
Monday, a city crew began digging out the pit in preparation for dropping in a large culvert to address the problem.
"The city approved the project back in May but the weather just hasn't been good enough to start a project like this," Gray said from inside her store located at 4907 Fifth Street. "I'm glad the hole didn't start eating away at my building."
A spokesperson for the city of Meridian's Public Works Department said the project will cost about $65,000 and is being done by H.E. Mosley Construction Inc. out of Marion. The spokesperson said the project is supposed to take 10 days to complete but that would depend greatly on the weather.
Joe McCraney, Lauderdale County administrator, said the project was a dual grant request by the county and city. He says the county is not contributing any funding to the project but that the supervisors supported the project with the city.
In February, the sinkhole was large enough swallow an SUV, but has steadily gotten bigger. Crews with heavy equipment have enlarged the hole even more in order to the massive storm culverts.
Gray said she had no ill-feeling towards the city over the sinkhole, but did say a local attorney she hired was key in getting the project off the shelf and through the approval process.
"I was always confident something would be done I just needed it to be done sooner rather than later," Gray said. "My business has been impacted to a small extent because people don't like getting near a sinkhole that large."
Gray has owned the business for 37 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened. Gray said the issue was always that it was the city's culvert that started to leak and caused the problem.
"When the culvert first failed the rainwater would pour into the hole and create a whirlpool," Gray says. "That quickly grew into what it is today."