An abandoned mine shaft gave way to a huge sinkhole in Cripple Creek, causing delays and detours for drivers using Highway 67. A four mile stretch is closed to traffic.
Someone called the Cripple Creek Police Department Saturday morning, thinking it was just a pothole. When engineers from the Colorado Department of Transportation came to check it out, they realized they had a much bigger problem on their hands. The hole is about 20 feet deep and 4 feet wide, leading to a century old mine shaft.
CDOT officials say although there are hundreds of mines in that area, it’s the first in local history to collapse under the pressure of the highway. Years of vibrations and moisture likely caused the breakdown. Gary Heller, a Highway Maintenance Supervisor for the CDOT, told News 5, “This area in the late 1800’s was an active mining district and there are hundreds of old abandoned mines in here and these tunnels crisscross the entire area. There area so many variables right now because you basically can’t see anything more than what you can see down that hole, and there could be a whole labyrinth of fingers off this thing.”
Engineers are using excavation equipment to determine the size and scope of the problem, but the big unknown right now is how long the sinkhole will take to repair, and what that could cost.
The good news: the detour route is only about 15 minutes long. Drivers can go around the blocked-off area using County Road 81 or Teller 1. The detour is not expected to impact local commerce; all businesses are still open in Cripple Creek.