Large Sink Hole Stalls Traffic on Route 29

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

November 30, 2005

After several inches of rain flooded parts of the Charlottesville and surrounding counties, a large sink hole opened in the southbound lanes of Route 29.

The Virginia Department of Transportation was on the scene with contractors trying to solve the problem. The hole is 20 - 30 feet deep and at least two lanes wide.

VDOT spokesperson, Lou Hatter, believes the sink hole is the result of a loose pipe underground.

"What we have here is a stormwater management pipe that runs across [Rt.] 29, and we believe that for some reason, that pipe deteriorated and developed a hole yesterday. Due to the volume of rain, water got outside the pipe. Once it gets outside the pipe, it seeks the easiest path [to release the pressure]. It gets outside the pipe, it erodes the earth around it, more water comes in, it erodes more earth, and finally, the weight of the earth over top and the pavement collapsed the roadway into the cavern that had been created underneath," Hatter explained.

Crews were waiting for Sprint to remove nearby powerlines so that construction on the hole could begin. They arrived on the scene early to determine whether it was safe for drivers to pass by the sink hole.

"What we have is an excavator out here--a piece of equipment that will be able to dig down to the pipe, so that we can actually take a look at the pipe and try and figure out exactly how it was deteriorated, what happened, and then we can see exactly how we'll go about fixing the problem. We're hoping to get it fixed as quickly as possible. We'll have crews out here throughout the day and into the evening until it's done," Hatter said.

If Route 29 is shut-down, alternative route are designated on Airport Road and Earlysville Road.

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