Spelunkers explore sinkhole under Ranson street

Photo submitted to The Journal Tom Griffin, member of Tri-State Grotto, a spelunking group, explores a sinkhole under Fifth Avenue in Ranson to provide the West Virginia Department of Transportation with more accurate measurements and conditions.

Photo submitted to The Journal
Tom Griffin, member of Tri-State Grotto, a spelunking group, explores a sinkhole under Fifth Avenue in Ranson to provide the West Virginia Department of Transportation with more accurate measurements and conditions.

RANSON, W.Va. — While the opening of a sinkhole on Fifth Avenue in Ranson barely looks large enough for a person to enter, underneath the street is a cavernous void spacious enough to hold several.

The street remains closed after the sinkhole was discovered May 5. While the West Virginia Department of Transportation is unsure when the sinkhole will be repaired and the road reopened, the agency did recently learn more about its condition.

Over the weekend, at WVDOT’s request, Tri-State Grotto, a group that explores cave systems throughout the tri-state area, inspected the sinkhole to glean additional information. The group estimates the sinkhole is about 20 feet deep.

“It was important to get in to see how vast that area was. I think now we will start to begin to figure out how to repair it. Our challenge moving forward is to see how we can build the area to hold the weigh of vehicles,” said Brent Walker, spokesperson for the WVDOT.

“It will probably be done in layers with rock and stone and concrete. Most sinkholes are repaired that way, in layers,” he said.

While still researching the exact cause of the sinkhole, Walker believes water erosion and improper installation of the surrounding drainage culverts played a factor in creating it…

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