Palmyra moves to fix persistent sinkhole

by Michael Mosher on July 26, 2012

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PALMYRA – Crews could soon begin the first phase of work to repair a sinkhole that has closed East Cherry Street at South Duke Street since last fall.

On Tuesday night, Borough Council approved spending up to $65,000 to find the best underground site for a new injection well, which would replace the existing one in the area.

Meanwhile, in North Londonderry Township, PennDOT crews on Thursday were expected to finish repairing a sinkhole on Route 422 in front of the Sinkhole Saloon that opened overnight Tuesday. Eastbound traffic was rerouted to the center lane as crews began work Wednesday.

PennDOT spokeswoman Fritzi Schreffler said Wednesday that crews repaired a depression in the same area last week.

“We poured 20 cubic yards of concrete into the one last week,” she said. “This new one is just west of where we did the repair last week.”

Sinkholes have been a problem for the past several years on that stretch of road, which is not far from the East Cherry Street sinkhole in the borough. A portion of East Cherry Street has been closed since Tropical Storm Lee flooded the area in September.

Borough manager Roger Powl told council Tuesday night that the next step – Phase I – for repairing the sinkhole is to dig a test hole for a new injection well at the end of the street. Injection wells are holes drilled through the soil into underlying rock to drain stormwater runoff in the absence of a storm-sewer system that would carry the runoff to a stream.

Powl said a geophysical study shows an area just east of the existing well with enough rock to put the new well.

“We need to do a test well,” he said, adding that engineers will flush the well and see how many gallons of water per hour it can take. “If it proves to be a good location, then the next step will be to drill a production well.”

The borough also would need to get various permits from state environmental agencies. The cost for the production well is estimated at $70,000.

In addition, the borough would have to place a lined detention basin to direct the water into the new well, Powl said.

“The big price is when you get into building the pond,” he said. “There are so many variables there it’s hard to say at this point what the cost is going to be.”

He estimated the total cost for the project at $1.4 million, but the final cost is likely to be below that figure.

Powl said the project should stabilize the ground around the area so the sinkhole doesn’t open again.

Through the decades, the borough has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing sinkholes around East Cherry Street. Before Tropical Storm Lee hit central Pennsylvania, Palmyra had repaired the same sinkhole in 2011. In fact, East Cherry Street had been opened only about a month before the 100-year storm wiped out the repairs, again forcing the street’s closure.

“It was stabilized,” Powl recalled Wednesday. “We were in good shape. Then, the (storm) took it out.”

“That area has been an issue for decades,” agreed council President Jane Quairoli. “It needs to be taken care of.”

Money for the project will come from the $5 million loan council approved for building a stormwater management system and a new municipal building earlier this year.

Full article…here

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