- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) - Scientists plan to conduct additional tests on a five-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 69 near the Oklahoma border to determine if it is safe for traffic.

The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1O29kg0 ) reports that the area in southern Cherokee County has been heavily mined for lead and zinc, so safety experts want to know if the rock above the mined area is susceptible to collapse.

A previous survey of this section of U.S. 69 was completed in 2009. That report found no reason for concern, but did identify some spots where rock layers appeared to be weakening.

Bob Henthorne, the chief geologist for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said this round of testing will be different from two previous rounds they did this summer.

“It will be in the same location but with a different technique,” Henthorne said, explaining that all the tests involve sending sound waves into the ground to assess the strength of the rock over the mined voids.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, no sinkholes have formed in the driving lanes of Kansas highways before, and there have been no related accidents. However, other states, such as Kentucky, have experienced problems involving road collapses due to such conditions.

A final report on U.S. 69 is due next June, but Henthorne says they should have some indication of the road’s condition by December.

If problems are found, state officials can try to strengthen the road by drilling holes from the surface into the mine, and then filling the void with grout.

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


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