PETERSBURG, Ohio (WYTV) – A portion of State Line Road in Springfield Township is closed until further notice after an old mine collapsed beneath it on Monday.
The mine, maybe centuries old, collapsed several hundred feet below ground, causing the road’s surface to buckle.
State Line Road from Nora Drive to Mount Jackson Road could be closed for several months.
“I have no idea at this point how long it’s going to take,” said Springfield Township Police Chief Matthew Mohn.
Drivers should follow posted detour signs to avoid the area. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the detour is Columbiana Road (Route 3006), to Route 108 and back to State Line Road.
The detour to the east takes at least ten minutes and takes drivers into Pennsylvania.
“It was a major problem because now we have to detour around if there is any emergency, emergency response calls,” Mohn said. “The closest detour would be South Range Road, or we can go down Columbiana Road, which is further north from here, and Middletown Road, which is further north, or Calla Road, which is even further north.”
Problems like this are widespread throughout the area, especially around Petersburg, where the land was mined for centuries.
“The area, particularly Petersburg, has been mined for both coal and limestone for quite some time. The mining history goes back to the 1800s,” said Dr. Jeffrey Dick, a professor at Youngstown State University.
He says old mines can give way with little notice.
“When you get unexpected collapse, it’s because it was an older mine.”
Modern mines are collapsed as soon as the coal is dug out, but old mines that have been abandoned for hundreds of years are like ticking time bombs.
“It’s definitely not stable and it’s definitely changing. It’s just closed off so people can’t venture in and out of it,” Dick said.
Because no one knows where all the mines are, there’s the possibility that another collapse could happen at any time.