HINTON, W.Va. (AP) — Highway crews plan to build a temporary bridge over a giant sinkhole in southern West Virginia that has overtaken a road and threatened a nearby police department’s building.
The 125-foot (38-meter) temporary bridge will be built starting Friday along state Route 20 in Hinton until permanent repairs can be made to a 90-year-old drainage structure that collapsed underneath it, the Department of Transportation said in a news release.
The bridge will be long enough to span the existing hole, even if it gets bigger before contractors can replace the drainage structure, highways district engineer Joe Pack said. Traffic will be detoured while the bridge is built.
The sinkhole opened in June, when it was about six feet (1.8 meters) wide and 30 feet (9.1 meters) deep. Now it’s exponentially bigger.
Crews installed a temporary culvert and fill material under the road, but heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Nicole last Friday washed out the fill and made the sinkhole worse, the statement said.
Plans for a permanent repair were hampered by the discovery of toxic levels of lead on the site, the statement said. The highways department will repair the sinkhole without endangering the public or work crews.
Eventually, a 300-foot (91-meter) steel drainage structure will be placed under the area.