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UPDATE: (3:35 p.m.) The Alabama Department of Transportation says the hole has been filled.
A spokesperson with the department, Seth Burkett, says the outside lane is being reopened, but the shoulder will remain closed overnight. Crews will be back on Friday to repave the shoulder.
Burkett said sinkholes are relatively common in Alabama compared to some other parts of the country, and they are mostly due to limestone sinks here. He said the department occasionally has to deal with them in and around roads, and they can be very hazardous when they appear under roadways.
The Alabama Department of Transportation asks that anyone who sees a sinkhole or evidence of one notify the department and law enforcement immediately.
Seth Burkett, Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman, issued this press release:
"ALDOT was notified about 6:15 a.m. that a sinkhole had appeared in the shoulder of Alabama 53 northbound just south of Burwell Road. The hole is about 7.5 feet in diameter at the surface, wider below the surface, and 12 to 14 feet deep.
"Expect the outside northbound lane to remain closed today and tomorrow while ALDOT investigates and makes repairs, and possibly throughout the weekend while we continue to monitor the area.
"Today, ALDOT will be doing some exploratory drilling in the area in an effort to determine the cause and extent of the issue. To repair it, crews will remove loose material from the hole and then fill it with riprap (stone) and flowable concrete fill, then repave the shoulder. The current plan could change based on any conditions encountered during drilling, digging or filling."
Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver said a sinkhole is causing a traffic problem Thursday morning.
“Northbound Hwy. 53 will have one lane closed just south of Burwell Road while (Alabama Department of Transportation) decides how to handle this sinkhole …,” Vandiver wrote in part on a Facebook post.
The hole is believed to be between 12- and 15-feet deep.
Seth Burkett, transportation department spokesman, said the sinkhole is 7.5 feet in diameter.
Avoid the area if possible. Use caution if you cannot.