YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A 24-inch sewer line underneath a busy intersection in Youngstown collapsed early Friday morning, causing a sinkhole to open up.
As crews were working to fix it, water began shooting from the sinkhole.
As of Saturday morning, equipment is in place and workers are getting ready to fill in the sinkhole with cement, a process that will take several days.
The sinkhole is located near the intersection of Himrod and Penn avenues, so a portion of Himrod Avenue is blocked off in both directions.
A detour will take drivers from Andrews Avenue to Oak Street to the other side of Himrod Avenue.
Sharise Huebel-Anderson was dropping off her fiancé off at work Friday morning when she realized she couldn’t turn right onto Himrod Avenue.
“We thought it was a tarp in the middle of the road and we noticed it was actually a hole,” she said.
Huebel-Anderson said she uses the road every day.
“I was like, ‘Thank God I wasn’t driving after work or something and it fell through.'”
The crater caused a vehicle to blow out a tire, which resulted in an accident.
“Typically, the sinkholes exist under the pavement and nobody knows about them until they show up on the surface,” said Director of Public Works Charles Shasho.
City leaders said the sewer line under the sinkhole was made out of brick and is nearly 75 years old. Shasho said time is to blame for sinkholes like this.
“It’s an old brick sewer…you get a few bricks missing here and there, and it starts taking water in,” he said. “Then it’s like an hourglass. The sand or soil keeps infiltrating into the sewer and keeps getting washed away by the sewer in the flow. Before you know it, you have a large void above the sewer.”
He compared bricks in sewers to Legos.
“Imagine building a sewer out of Legos and start removing Legos and all of a sudden, they all just crumble and they continue to crumble as you’re working on it,” Shasho said.
That portion of the road is expected to be closed for at least a few weeks, according to Shasho.
Crews have to clean out all of the debris and shut off that part of the sewer. Then they can send in a camera to find out the extent of the damage and see what needs to be repaired.
The Public Works Department checks the strength of pipes with a remote-controlled tractor.
“A lot of times, the sewers look perfectly fine and it’s just a leaky joint that’s causing the void and they don’t necessarily show up in the inspection,” Shasho said.
The repairs will be handled by Marucci and Gaffney Excavating. Shasho estimates the repairs will cost between $250,000 to $300,000. He said the city may reach out to the Ohio Public Works for help.