After a year of headaches, Tuscaloosa OKs fixing Rice Mine sinkholes
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Gracie Johnson
A pair of sinkholes along Rice Mine Road in Tuscaloosa that have been bothering businesses in the area since September 2021 will finally be getting repairs. This week, Tuscaloosa announced it will soon begin making the necessary repairs.
Afflink Vice President of Finance Chip Shields said his employees and customers have been left to dodge the massive sinkholes or risk falling inside.
The holes showed up in 2021, Shields said, when rain collapsed the infrastructure under the road.
Afflink is the business most affected by the sinkholes, because they’re just about blocking the entrance and exit to the business. Shields said Afflink’s landlord did help make some temporary fixes, but they weren’t nearly enough.
“It became really difficult to get out, so we incurred the burden along with Phillip Weaver Jr., our landlord,” Shields said. “We decided we had to have a way for our people to get in and out. So we put gravel over that plat there that’s unused and put asphalt over it to help our employees have a safe way to get in and out.”
Shields recalled an instance where someone driving in the area actually wrecked and fell into the sinkhole. At the time, the sinkhole was likely filled with water.
“It was raining one day and the visibility wasn’t great,” Shields said. “When that happens and it floods, it moved some of the hazard signs out of the way and a lady was taking her husband maybe to Smile Doctors and pulled in and didn’t know the hole was there and her car went straight down into it. Fortunately, she was OK. It didn’t hurt her or her husband or really her car, but it caused a lot of excitement and attention.”
He said that the projected end date for the repairs looks to be in September of this year, nearly two years after the sinkholes first appeared.
The project will cost the city as much as $2 million and will take about 90 days.