CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) – Two new sinkholes are causing problems in Cape Girardeau, creating what city leaders call a “very dangerous” situation.
The Southeast Missourian reports that the sinkholes are on busy South Sprigg Street, near LaCroix Creek. One is causing creek water to flood into a quarry.
One sinkhole is about 50 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep. The other near the end of a creek bridge is about 25 feet in diameter and 6-8 feet deep and growing.
City employees are monitoring the bridge and public works director Tim Gramling said the public should avoid the area.
“It’s very dangerous, it’s very unpredictable,” Gramling said. “It’s just not a place for people to be walking around, unless they’re emergency workers.”
Thirty-three sinkholes have emerged in the same area of Cape Girardeau since 2007, including 18 new ones in the past two months.
Flooding hasn’t helped. The Mississippi River has risen well above flood stage twice this spring at Cape Girardeau, cresting for the second time late last week.
“You’ve just got to picture what’s going on underground,” Gramling said. “It’s like a 3-D Swiss cheese. Flood water gets into the cracks and crevasses and starts to fill up the quarry.”
Gramling said employees of Buzzi Unicem quarry are damming the creek by the bridge in an effort to reduce the flow of water into the quarry.
City and quarry workers in the past have tried to address the sinkhole problem by filling the holes with rock and concrete. It hasn’t helped.
“You can put stuff in them and it just disappears and we’ve done that for several years,” Gramling said. “If we filled the holes up, by tomorrow (the fill) would be gone.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will look at the problem. City leaders also plan to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and lawmakers to see if there’s anything that can be done.
The problem is such a concern that the city is considering permanently closing Sprigg Street. The city also had to change plans to expand its wastewater treatment plant. Instead, it will build a new one at another location.