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This story was updated at 5:03 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, with more information.

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Commercial vehicle detour route

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Highway 48 in Chattooga County, Georgia, has been closed for repairs after a collapse Monday night caused by heavy rains.

State officials hope to restore traffic flow by the weekend, if the weather cooperates.

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A stormwater drain under Highway 48 in Chattooga County, Ga., washed out Tuesday night causing the road to collapse. Georgia Department of Transportation crews are working to repair the damage but ongoing rain could complicate the work.

Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader said Thursday that a stormwater drain under the road washed out but officials didn't realize it until a dip appeared in the pavement.

"It is closed to all traffic," Schrader said. "It's a pretty big mess."

The closure will force some folks to reroute.

"There's plenty of side roads for local traffic to get around," Schrader said. "[The state transportation department] has set up a detour for commercial traffic."

The site is about halfway between Menlo and Summerville in front of the business called Menlo Barn Dance, the sheriff said. Sunnydale Road is just north of the collapse, and East Peach Orchard Road is just to the south.

The highway has been closed since Monday night, and there have been no reports of vehicles sustaining any damage.

"They actually closed the road before the asphalt collapsed," he said. "The dirt underneath had collapsed but the road only had a slight dip in it."

The Georgia Department of Transportation has several crews working on the repair.

"The biggest thing is there was a tremendous amount of water backed up on the north side of the highway because of the collapse," Schrader said. "They had to bust through that and let that water drain before they could get in there and start digging."

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Local residents' detour route

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GDOT spokesman Mohamed Arafa said the state agency was notified around 9 p.m. Monday and the road was closed and detours put in place.

"To minimize the impact of the closure of this highway, Georgia DOT set up two detour routes: one for truck traffic using only state routes and a shorter route for other types of traffic, including local traffic, using a local road along some state routes," Arafa said. Traffic was rerouted Monday night onto state highway 337 and 1.

"We are now removing the old busted pipe," he said. "Once we are done with the removal of the damaged pipe, we will install a new one and start paving the roadway. "We hope to complete this repair operation this weekend and give the highway back to local traffic and the traveling public."

Arafa said officials hope by creating two detour routes they will reduce traffic on the truck detour route and keep trucks off the back roads used for the local detour.

"Usually we don't detour traffic off of state routes onto local roads or city streets, we just wanted to help the local traffic and reduce the impact of the closure of the road," Arafa said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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