- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

TREECE, Kan. (AP) - State transportation officials are awaiting the results of testing along a five-mile stretch of U.S. 69 in southern Kansas looking for trouble spots that could lead to highway collapses.

The road leads to the abandoned mining town of Treece, which was bought out by the federal government a few years ago because of environmental contamination left by mining.

Kansas Geological Survey scientist Rick Miller told The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1TnHCvA ) about half a mile of U.S. 69 near the Kansas-Oklahoma border is over an abandoned mine.

The transportation department says nearly 2,200 vehicles, including 400 semitrailers, travel that stretch of highway each day. The highway is sparsely traveled compared with other roads in Cherokee County.

The previous survey of U.S. 69 was done in 2009 and found no safety problems, said Bob Henthorne, the chief geologist for the transportation department.

“From what we know today, it can handle the traffic,” he said.

This week, crews from the transportation department and the Kansas Geological Survey used a machine to send vibrations into the ground to map the rock layers underneath.

“We ping the ground,” Miller said. “The sound waves travel down. We read them. We want to know how much stress is on that rock, how strong it is.”

The test results aren’t expected for months. If problems are found, the transportation department can try to strengthen the road with a process called mine grouting. Holes are drilled from the surface into the mine, and grout is pumped into the empty space.

Cherokee County in southeast Kansas once was part of a center of zinc and lead mining. The county’s mines produced nearly 2.9 million tons of zinc and 0.7 million tons of lead.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com


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