COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
A city employee keeps watch as work proceeds to repair a large sinkhole that caved in the intersection of First Street and Lorne Avenue Friday evening.
City crews hoped to have a gaping sinkhole on First Street filled in by this morning after the asphalt collapsed yesterday exposing a giant cavity under the road.
A crowd of onlookers gather to watch crews fix a large sinkhole on First Street at Lorne Avenue, Friday evening. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
A massive eight-foot-deep sinkhole emerged on First Street at Lorne Avenue in Brandon on Friday morning. The area was barricaded on Thursday night prior to the collapse. (GRAEME BRUCE / BRANDON SUN)
A barrier was put up at First Street and Lorne Avenue on Thursday night when the surface was slumping before the asphalt caved in on Friday morning.
The hole in a southbound lane was at least eight feet deep and 20 feet wide, and crews had to dig up the width of much of the street.
The sinkhole, which attracted a lot of attention from drivers, was a result of a water main break that caused massive erosion underneath the road.
With the anticipation First Street would reopen at 10 p.m. Friday, the city closed First Street in both directions between Kirkcaldy Drive and Victoria Avenue, snarling evening traffic along Kirkcaldy.
As two backhoes were transported to the project late afternoon yesterday, the city’s director of public works, Ian Broome, said crews braced themselves for a late night and hoped to have it completed by this morning.
"Unless there’s unforeseen things happening there that we don’t know about until we fix it," Broome said.
The plan at the outset was to repair the water main before filling the gap, but the waterline break could be several feet away from the sinkhole, in which case it might be a separate undertaking.
"It could be 20 feet away from the actual hole," Broome said.
He said he suspects the water main sprung a leak a while ago given the size of the hole and said he feels fortunate no one was hurt as a result.
"You see these horror stories on TV where cars fall through, so ... there’s always that risk," he said.
The freeze-and-thaw cycles of March could be the culprit, Broome said, and this year’s seven-foot-deep frost line is cause for major concern for the city’s utilities, which generally lie eight feet below the surface.
"Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it at seven feet for as long as I can recall," Broome said.
Broome estimated the main crossing the road could be about 30 years old, possibly installed when First Street was last redone.
The City of Brandon and the province are jointly responsible for the four-lane thoroughfare, but the utilities underneath are Brandon’s responsibility, so the work to fix the sinkhole lies on the city’s shoulders.
"The city is the traffic authority and of course, the water main is theirs," said executive director of construction Ron Weatherburn, director of construction and maintenance with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
"My understanding is they are keeping us involved, but they’re looking after this issue."
Broome said he couldn’t estimate how much the project will cost.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 22, 2014