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Sinkhole closes I-70

June 18, 1998|By SHEILA HOTCHKIN

FREDERICK, Md. - A developing sinkhole forced officials to close westbound Interstate 70 near South Street in Frederick and redirect traffic to the shoulder during Thursday's morning rush hour.

State Highway Administration workers noticed a slight depression Thursday as they drove along I-70 near Frederick at 7:30 a.m., said spokesman David Buck.

Recognizing it as a sign of a sinkhole, they closed down the left lane within 15 minutes and went in with jackhammers to determine the extent of the damage.

They found a sinkhole that was 10 feet deep, 12 feet wide and 12 feet long. They closed down both lanes by 8 a.m. and ran one lane of traffic through on the shoulder.

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Hoping to finish the job before the evening rush hour when traffic is traditionally heavier than in the morning, workers filled the hole with 18 yards of concrete and covered it with steel plates. They finished and reopened the road around 3:45 p.m.

The road will be resurfaced today, and tests will be run in the area to determine whether there will be any future problems, Buck said.

Sinkholes are relatively uncommon on interstates, according to Buck. The last I-70 incident also was in Frederick, occurring several years ago near Patrick Street.

Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties are particularly susceptible to the underground holes due to the large deposits of limestone found in those areas, Buck said.

The limestone shifts over time, eventually leaving a sizable impression in the ground.

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