STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Sinkhole seems to be a buzz word this week. We’ve been getting calls and submissions on the Report It tab our website from viewers who have spotted sinkholes around the Valley.
One of those holes was in Austintown and another appeared Wednesday in East Liverpool on the ramp to Route 30/39. But what is causing theses opening in ground long after the chill of winter is gone? Weather does play a big role, both cold temperatures and lots of rain. We’ve had plenty of both.
An older pipe under the ground near New Road and Raccoon Road in Austintown was the culprit there. According to Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti, the road basically eroded out.
“It washes out all the material in there. The water went into the pipe, it scoured and tore all the base out from underneath and caused the road to fail,” Ginnetti said.
Failing water and sewer lines can cause sinkholes as well as at sites of old mining operations. Struthers resident Michael Gabriel thought an old mine was beneath a hole that opened up on the corner of Liberty and Ridge streets, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources ruled out that theory.
“The problem closely relates to known issues that have derived from developments over old building developments and building foundations, and there was a building here,” Gabriel said.
Struthers Safety Service Director Ed Wildes said he thinks a heavy truck or other vehicle went over the area and cracked the sidewalk, pushing it down.
Ginnetti thinks other recent sinkholes are mining related. Some mining operations weren’t mapped.
“Even if they were mapped, they will cause structural failure of the stone which slowly, over time, with the freeze and thaw cycle and rain, will cause the rock to just kind of wear away,” Ginnetti said.
Most of the time road crews don’t know a sinkhole is a problem until they see one or it is reported.