Sinkhole Develops on SR 51 in Hart Co.

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

A giant sinkhole has closed part of State Route 51 in Hart County.

The 20-foot-deep sinkhole opened up Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. and takes up almost the entire northbound lane of State Route 51, about 6 miles north of Hartwell in Hart County.

Lake Hartwell is on both sides of the roadway.

Georgia Department of Transportation Spokesperson Teri Pope said State Route 51 in this area of Hart County will be closed to traffic into Friday at least.

Pope said until the road reopens, a detour has been put in place

“Motorists will be directed to a detour,” said Pope. “If you’re headed north on SR51, turn left onto Boat Road and then right on Parham Road. That will lead you back to SR51/Reed Creek Highway. If you’re headed south, you do the opposite. We are examining the sinkhole now and as we develop a repair plan and a timeline we will share that information with you.”

Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland said that the sinkhole was discovered by a motorist.

Cleveland said what is unusual about the sinkhole is that the road had not washed away, but everything underneath has.

“He noticed the road had sloped down and it gave him a jolt,” Cleveland said. “So he pulled over and got out of his car and that’s when he saw the everything underneath had washed away.”

Cleveland went on to say that stretch of road was over a huge culvert that was built about 50 years ago.

“I watched them build that culvert and they used galvanized metal to build it. I guess they thought that it would last forever, but it looks like it may have deteriorated over time,” he said.

There is no word on what caused the sinkhole to occur.