Commission declares local state of emergency regarding CR 222 sinkhole

The Cullman County Commission at its regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22, declared a local state of emergency in anticipation of extensive repairs to County Road 222. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala. – At its regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 22, the Cullman County Commission discussed the sinkhole that was recently discovered along County Road 222. It declared a local state of emergency to clear the path for emergency funding and lowered restrictions from the State in order to correct the roadway as quickly as possible. Once the declaration was signed, the commissioner, along with Cullman County Economic Development Director Matt Kinsland and Cullman County Engineer Phillip Widner, took steps toward securing a Community Development Block Grant and planning the extensive repairs needed.

Cullman County Administrator John Bullard said, “This just sets the stage to declare the emergency, so that we can make the determination from there if it qualifies for an exemption from the bid law. But in order to file the application for the CDBG money, we have to have that declared.”

Widner is leading the charge and said a plethora of options are available, all varying in intensity, cost and economic impact. County Road 222 is a heavily traveled road with an average of 7,500 motorists each day; it’s the main road to a handful of Cullman County’s businesses and industrial plants, as well as an exit for northbound and southbound Interstate 65.

The road department is considering at least two options for repairs. One option would be to bore out the collapsed tunnel and repair from the inside. The second option is to cut the entire section of road away and start fresh with a new roadbed and section of roadway. These are opposite choices in costs, time and methods, and Widner and Kinsland are weighing the pros and cons of each potential fix.

“We are exploring all of our options and we don’t have anything tied down yet. We are doing everything we can, we know there’s a lot of businesses down there, a lot of cars on that road. We’re trying to weigh everything,” said Widner. “It could be option one or it could be option two or a combination of both – there could even be an option three.”

While some contractors have said their methods of correcting the road could take as little as two to three weeks, others have said the job is so extensive it could take months to complete. Widner said he is confident the roadway will be repaired and secured before Rock the South comes to town.

The commission also recognized Officer Ricky Blackwood of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Training Center has been renamed the James R. “Ricky” Blackwood Training Center, honoring Blackwood’s 35-plus years of dedication to the department and the safety of Cullman County residents.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved Resolution 2024-07: Change speed limit to 30 mph on County Road 538
  • Approved Resolution 2024-09: Cullman County Commission regarding Constitutional Amendment 1 in the 2024 Primary Election
  • Approved Resolution 2024-10: Change speed limit to 50 mph on County Road 1545
  • Approved Chairman Clemons reappointment of John King to the Joppa Water Board for a 6-year term to expire March 1, 2030
  • Approved the appointment of Mayor Carla Hart to the NARCOG Board of Directors for the 2024 term
  • Approved the quote from Commercial Energy Specialists, LC for pool equipment and chemical controller for Smith Lake Park Pool in the amount of S14.384.82
  • Approved the purchase of a 2024 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4X4 Pickup from Stiverson State Bid in the amount of $51,765 for the Road Department
  • Approved the purchase of a 2023 Ford Explorer from Stivers on State Bid in the amount of $37,458 for the Sales Tax Office
  • Approved the change order for the Pandemic Response Center resulting in a decrease in the amount of $7,200
  • Approved Option 1 renewal of Catastrophic Inmate Medical Insurance through Sirius America Insurance Company in the amount of $ 83,423.76 and authorize Chairman to sign all related paperwork
  • Approved Agreement with JMR+H Architectural and Project Management Services for Cullman County Agricultural Center and authorize Chairman to sign all related paperwork
  • Approved to ratify time and materials agreement with Ambipar Response under Title 39 (e) 1 Emergency provision
  • Approved to ratify time and materials agreement with Servpro under Title 39 (e) 1 Emergency provision
  • Approved the surplus of a 2001 Asphalt Zipper from the road department to be auctioned on GovDeals
  • Approved proposed plat for Bronco Subdivision Phase 2- a minor subdivision in commission district 1 containing 3 lots located 1.4 miles north of Hwy 278 on County Road 1718
  • Approved the resurvey of lot 1 of Serenity Pointe Subdivision- a major private subdivision located in commission district 4 located 1.8 miles south of County Road 310 on County Road 388
  • Approved proposed plat for Serenity Pointe Subdivision Phase 2- A major private subdivision in commission district 4 containing 21 lots located 1.8 miles south of County Road 310 on County Road 388

The next commission work session will be Thursday, March 19, 2024, at 4 p.m. in the commission meeting room, with the meeting following at 6.

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