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Sinkhole closes lane of I-70

May 16, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A 12-foot sinkhole closed one lane of traffic Friday in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 and caused big backups.

The sinkhole opened before 11 a.m. in the median adjacent to the road's shoulder east of the U.S. 40 interchange, Maryland State Police said.

Police closed the left lane of westbound I-70 for more than four hours while State Highway Administration (SHA) workers filled the sinkhole, causing traffic to back up as many as nine miles.

The road was reopened about 3 p.m., according to an SHA press release.

Robert Fisher, district engineer for the SHA, said Friday afternoon that road crews would repair the sinkhole by filling it with flowable backfill.

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Fisher said engineers would return to the sinkhole site to do some exploratory work in an effort to prevent future sinkholes there.

Fisher said Washington and Frederick counties are susceptible to sinkholes because of the abundance of soluble limestone formations in the area.

Underground channels form in the rock and easily are widened when the area receives heavy rain, Fisher said.

"It flushes down all the sediment and leaves us with a big hole in the ground," Fisher said.


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