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Fairmont ‘pothole’ now sinkhole over mine shaft

Times West Virginian photo by Chelsi Baker  Kenny Frame (right) and Rex Merrill, workers with the West Virginia Division of Highways, look inside the sink hole on Pleasant Valley Road that worsened Thursday.
Times West Virginian photos by Chelsi Baker
Kenny Frame (right) and Rex Merrill, workers with the West Virginia Division of Highways, look inside the sink hole on Pleasant Valley Road that worsened Thursday.

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A section of Pleasant Valley Road has caved in due to an old mine shaft.

Workers with the West Virginia Division of Highways who were on the scene Thursday morning said the hole was nearly 20 feet deep and the width of one lane.

The hole is located on Pleasant Valley Road near the Marion County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Center.

“Officials have known about (the hole) since Tuesday,” said Donald Mundell, chief of the Valley Volunteer Fire Department. “The 911 Center put small cones by the hole, but cars and school buses were still hitting it.”

 

A sink hole caused West Virginia Division of Highways workers to close Pleasant Valley Road on Thursday.
A sink hole caused West Virginia Division of Highways workers to close Pleasant Valley Road on Thursday.

“(Wednesday afternoon), we thought it was a pothole and had it patched by 7 p.m.,” said DOH worker Jeff Pethtel. “(Wednesday) morning, the road was collapsed.”

West Virginia Division of Transportation engineer Greg Phillips said the hole was caused by mine subsidence. West Virginia has several mine subsidence-related problems.

“Due to bad winters and wet springs, the ground is saturated with water,” Phillips said. “A cavern is made by the water and it (cannot hold the road).”

Phillips said these are referred to as “blowouts” because the road eventually collapses. He said the process for fixing these holes takes at least a week.

“(The DOH) follows a process of filling these holes so a sound foundation can be made,” he added. “But sometimes they can continue to sink.”

A person who lives near the hole said Thursday that cars were violently hitting the hole the day before and that this was not the first deep hole in the area…

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