MOUNT CARMEL — A section of Main Street just east of Mount Carmel City Hall will be closed for the next few days due to a sinkhole that occurred Sunday in the same location where a sinkhole occurred in June 2012.
Mount Carmel Public Works Director Jason Salyer received a report early Sunday that the pavement was sinking on Main Street in front of the Volunteer Collision shop, about halfway between the Hammond Avenue and Independence Avenue intersection.
By the time he arrived on the scene around 2 p.m., there was a small indention in the road about 24 inches in diameter.
"I put some cones out around it and came back around 6:30 p.m., and a place about 9 feet by 8 feet had sunk approximately 10 inches deep," Salyer told the Times-News. "By the time we got the road completely shut down around 8 p.m., it had actually gone about another foot and a half toward the guard rail."
That section of road was shut down overnight Sunday, and on Monday Mount Carmel's public works department took up the concrete in hopes of discovering the cause.
The cause of the 2012 sinkhole was reported as a leaking sewer line that eroded the sides of a cavern beneath the road. As of Monday afternoon, the cause of the new sinkhole remained unknown.
Salyer's plan was to pack in a mixture of gravel and water and monitor it overnight.
Assuming the sinkhole doesn't begin expanding again and the weather holds out, Salyer will try to pour concrete into the new hole Tuesday.
As a result, that section of Main Street should be closed a few more days.
"We drilled holes in the existing blacktop, and we're going to put steel rebar back into the existing blacktop and pour concrete on top of that," he said. "We should have roughly 16 inches of concrete, and it will be tied to the existing blacktop with steel in a grid pattern."
He added, "Before we leave (Monday night) we're going to try to have the rock in it and packed, so we can see what happens tonight."
If the sinkhole continues to grow, the city will likely call in a contractor to address it, as it did in 2012 when an 8 foot by 6 foot section of road in the same spot sank 3 feet.
In related news, a section of Old Stage Road in Surgoinsville that suffered a sinkhole in January remains closed until engineers give the city and the Surgoinsville Utility District (SUD) the OK to open it back up.
A section of Old Stage Road near the Main Street intersection has been closed since Jan. 27, when a massive sinkhole occurred at the location of a water line leak.
SUD is overseeing the sinkhole repair and will pay for the damage.
Mayor Merrell Graham said Monday he expected the engineer's report to already be released by now. He said he can't imagine it will take much longer.
"We've got to make sure it's good and solid before we open everything back up," Graham said. "It will be a while before we pave. We'll probably put gravel down for a while and let it settle."
The preliminary report was optimistic, indicating they thought the problem had been addressed.
SUD already filled up the cavern that was created under the road with flowable fill.
"As far as they could tell, the fill was packed in all the way to the end of the cavern, but we won't know for sure until we get this report," Graham added.