Sinkholes Causing More Problems for Road Crews

By Mallory Lane

Published 06/30 2014 05:53PM

Updated 06/30 2014 06:14PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - Road construction is holding up traffic in several areas of Centre County this summer, but one township is seeing traffic for a different kind of construction.

Representatives in Ferguson Township said sinkholes are becoming a pesky problem in the area.

"It seems like everything at once for us during the spring," Ferguson Township Public Works Director David Modricker, said.

This is the time of year Modricker likes to work on pre-planned projects. This year, though, they're being put on temporary hold, thanks to sinkholes.

"We had them open up here at Circleville, Valley Vista, Science Park," Modricker said. "This is our biggest."

So far this summer, four sinkholes have called for repair in Ferguson Township, the most Modricker remembers seeing in years.

"While they're common, we seem to have had quite a few and it's really taking up a lot of our resources that we were hoping to use on other projects," he said.

Water, rock that can be dissolved in water and a place for that water to go in subsurface are the three ingredients Mark Ralston blames for sinkhole formations.

Ferguson Township happens to have the perfect mix.

"We have just the right rock conditions that the rock can be dissolved," Ralston, a geologist, said. "We have lots of water from storm water maybe 100 feet below the surface, so there are plenty of places for the water to go."

Ralston said Centre County is about average for the number of sinkholes in the state.

The solution?

"They carefully take a look at the setting where the sinkhole occurs and if there are no structures nearby and no potentially endangered water supply nearby, then there are things you can do using excavation and flushing the sinkhole with small stones," Ralston said.

Modricker said so far, the method seems to be working in some places.

"Moving forward, we will try to learn from what we've seen in the past," he said.

Construction at the intersection of Circleville Road and Valley Vista Drive will likely continue through next week. Drivers are asked to use caution in the area.

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