FLORENCE — An 18-wheeler dug up a section of landscaping inside the roundabout Wednesday when its back wheels became stuck in the median.

Officials were assessing the damage from the Wednesday incident, which created a crater from 2 to 3 feet deep and tore into sprinkler system lines. They also were checking to make sure no additional lines were impacted.

A Simpson's tow truck lifted the rear left row of tires back onto the road surface and a driver moved the truck out of the way, allowing traffic to resume at the Huntsville Road-Royal Avenue intersection.

The incident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. and was cleared in about an hour.

It was the latest in a series of tough breaks for the snake-bitten project, which had been slowed by large amounts of rainfall and unexpected issues with underground pipes. The project had been slated for 80 working days, but is coming up on a year since work started.

Currently, the part of the roundabout that is open allows traffic traveling south on Royal Avenue to go around and head east onto Huntsville Road. Likewise, traffic traveling west on Huntsville Road can enter the roundabout and turn north onto Royal Avenue.

Officials hope to have the remaining part of the project, which is south of Royal Avenue, open by mid-month.

That intersection, which had been closed during much of the work, opened partially Aug. 1.

Ken Patterson, owner of Ranger Batteries Company, which is at the Huntsville-Royal intersection, was inside his business when the truck became stuck Wednesday.

"I heard him scraping out of there and I thought, 'Oh no, all that work for nothing,'" Patterson said.

Other business owners said they have seen 18-wheelers travel through the roundabout successfully.

Mayor Steve Holt said this is the first incident to his knowledge involving the roundabout.

"It is designed to handle truck traffic," Holt said. "You've got to be careful going through it, just like you would with a regular vehicle."

Holt said the trucking company will be liable for the damages.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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