A West Virginia police department is in danger of being swallowed by a massive sinkhole as officials scramble to find a long-term solution.
The sinkhole was originally about six feet wide and 30 feet deep when it first opened on Route 20 next to the Hinton Police Department in June 2021, according to the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH). A 90-year-old drain under the highway began to fail, causing it to collapse, WVDOH district chief operations engineer Joe Pack said.
WVDOH crews installed a 120-foot temporary culvert and fill material under the highway, but heavy rains from Hurricane Nicole on Friday, November 11, 2022 washed away the fill and worsened the sump, WVDOH said.
An employee of the Hinton Police Department told the New York Post that the department was forced to move “a few months ago” as the sinkhole spread.
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Pack said last week that WVDOH is mobilizing crews from across the state to assemble a temporary bridge to keep traffic flowing in the area while a permanent repair is completed.
The 125-foot temporary bridge will be built beginning Friday along State Route 20 in Hinton until permanent repairs can be made to a 90-year-old drainage structure that collapsed below, the Department of Transportation said in a statement. press.
The bridge will be long enough to span the existing hole, even if it gets bigger, before contractors can replace the drainage structure, Pack said. Traffic will be diverted while the bridge is built.
Plans for a permanent repair were hampered by the discovery of toxic levels of lead at the site, according to the statement. The highway department will repair the sinkhole without endangering the public or work crews.
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Eventually, a 300-foot steel drainage structure will be placed below the area.
Associated Press contributed to this report.