Fayetteville police officers examine the sink hole near downtown Fayetteville
Publics work crews were working into the early morning hours on Wednesday after a chunk of road on Highway 85 south near downtown Fayetteville collapsed into a sink hole around 10 p.m on Tuesday night. According to Chris Hindman, Fayetteville's Director of Public Services, the soil and asphalt underneath the road had been washed away by an out of use water line that had sprung a leak.
"With water lines running underneath the road, we always have a certain amount of risk that a leak will develop and cause a sink hole. It doesn't take much time to erode away the soil and asphalt under there," Hindman said on Wednesday.
Hindman says a pothole had already formed on the spot, which is in the deceleration lane at the Highway 85 and Heritage Road intersection, which provides access to the Fayette County Public Library as well as City Cafe and the county administrative buildings. When he and GDOT officials examined the hole earlier on Tuesday it was not apparent that water was leaking underneath the road. Once the fairly sizeable sink hole collapsed, it became apparent that a leak in a three-quarter inch plastic service line was the culprit. The leak had not been detected prior.
"We do have a leak detection program but it did not pick up anything with this," Hindman says.
It was concluded that the pipe had serviced a bait shop that Hindman estimates was torn down in the 90's. The sink hole was large enough and near enough to the water main that the crew was able to shut it off entirely.
The leak is not considered part of a systemic problem.
"It's one of those things that can happen. It is a plastic pipe, and over time the ground can shift and put pressure on the line so that it just gives way over time," Hindman says.
Stormwater maintenance issues around the county have been a frequently discussed topic lately as the county has put forth a SPLOST to finance repairs and replacements of aging infrastructure. This incident, however, is not related to stormwater maintenance, Hindman says, since the culprit was a water service line.
Hindman says that while Highway 85 South is a state road, the city of Fayetteville will bear the cost of all the repairs since the collapse was caused by a leak in a city water line.
Work has been underway since Tuesday night, and the Fayette County website says the area should be fully repaired by Thursday. Until then, drivers should expect some traffic delays.