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Sinkhole-prone road to get long-term relief

July 17, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

A section of Maugans Avenue plagued by sinkholes got some long-term relief on Tuesday.

The Washington County Commissioners approved a contract to pump grout into an area along Maugans Avenue in front of the Maugans Avenue Car Wash, where two sinkholes have been seen in the past year.

The grout will stabilize the area and help prevent new sinkholes, said Terry McGee, chief engineer for Washington County.

"We think the two sinkholes are related to larger instability issues here," McGee said. "The grout will help fix that."

The work will include boring about 50 holes at least 5 feet into the rock below the soil that will be filled with grout to stabilize the ground, McGee said.

The project is estimated to cost $172,300, but that could change if engineers determine more work is needed, McGee said.

"We're spending $7.4 million on this roadway. The last thing we want is to have more sinkholes out there," said McGee, referring to the Maugans Avenue improvement project, which will widen the road from two to five lanes.

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A small sinkhole developed in front of the car wash last year and was quickly filled, McGee said.

The latest sinkhole developed May 13 as a small puncture on the shoulder of Maugans Avenue. By the next morning, the hole had grown to between 20 and 30 feet wide and between 22 and 30 feet deep, McGee said.

C. William Hetzer Inc. of Hagerstown, the contractor who was hired to widen Maugans Avenue, plugged the sinkhole by filling it with large stones, smaller rocks and fill dirt.

McGee said engineers have not been able to determine why sinkholes are occurring in the area.

Joseph Kroboth III, the county's public works director, said a well drilled for the car wash might have drawn down the water table and played a part in creating the sinkholes.

The grouting work was recommended by the State Highway Administration. The SHA offered the services of its contractor, Concrete Protection Services Inc., which does sinkhole repair for the SHA.

Because the SHA offered their contractor for the work, the contract was not put out for bid, McGee said.

McGee said work could begin in two weeks and should take about five days. Drivers should expect lane closures during the work, as one row of bores will be drilled into the road, McGee said.

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