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City works to repair sink hole

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- Crews from Albany's Public Works Department were working steadily Tuesday to repair a sanitary sewer and large storm sewer that were damaged when a massive sinkhole formed Sunday afternoon.

Public Works Director Phil Roberson said around noon Sunday a limesink formed below an eight-inch water main on 16th Avenue. Asphalt from the road began crumbling on top of it.

"It (the asphalt) broke the water line and damaged the sanitary sewer," he said.

The sinkhole is currently 16 feet deep and about 24 feet wide and has a variety of utilities running through it. Public Works crews said Tuesday they have to be wary when digging in the area.

"We have a three-inch gas line that is live," said Roberson. "We also have an eight-inch water main, a sanitary sewer and large storm store down there."

Sunday afternoon, crews closed down the section of 16th Avenue near Seaboard Drive and filled the gaping hole with dirt for safety reasons. Water gushed from the water main break Sunday afternoon.

"We filled the hole with over 10 loads of dirt; that is how much disappeared into the limesink when it formed," said Roberson.

Crews were unable to work in the sinkhole Monday because of the rainy forecast, but were working to clear the hole of excess dirt and water Tuesday to prepare to fix the sanitary sewer.

Residents along 16th Avenue were without water for a couple hours Sunday afternoon, but all utilities have been fully restored.

"Normally, we wouldn't have been able to restore water to the residents. Fortunately the section that was damaged, we are able to bypass the flow around it and still get water to residents," Roberson said.

He said Public Works is using bypass pumping to take some of the water flow away from the area so that crews can get into the hole and repair the section of pipe, which was installed in the 1970s.

"Over the next few days will be replacing the damaged section of the pipe," Roberson said, adding the limesink could have formed because to the unusually wet year Albany has had. "It's not a very common thing," he said.

Public Works must fix the sanitary sewer, which is positioned below the water main that broke, before WG&L can repair the water main.

Another sinkhole has formed in the area on a resident's property, and crews are currently investigating other possible sinkholes in the vicinity.