Sinkhole repairs at busy Winston-Salem intersection to last until Friday

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A sinkhole which collapsed at one of Winston-Salem’s busiest intersections won’t be fixed until Friday, according to officials.

The intersection in question is that of Hanes Mall Boulevard and Silas Creek Parkway.

“When we first uncovered it, it was about 10 feet wide, 10 feet deep, 15 to 20 feet long,” said John Rhyne, division maintenance engineer for the NCDOT.

There is no telling how many motorists may have traveled over the area responsible for the sinkhole before it fell through. NCDOT officials say several thousand motorists use the stretch of road on a daily basis. The sinkhole is believed to have been caused by holes in 72-inch pipes which are below the roadway and original to it.

As storm water came through the pipes, pressure caused a leak from the holes, causing erosion.

“Every time it rained and the water got up, it added water pressure to it, water went out that hole, sucked in a little more soil,” Rhyne said.

It is believed that this happened over a period of years.

“I [saw] the police blocking it off; at first, I didn’t know what it was,” said Jonathan Reaves, who works at the corner of Silas Creek Parkway and Hanes Mall Boulevard.

“People didn’t know what to do,” Reaves said, of motorists as the NCDOT began to block off lanes and inspect the sinkhole.

A separate sinkhole presented itself about a year and a half ago, and only dozens of feet away from the present one, raising concerns about the structural integrity of the infrastructure below the roadway.

“Initially, we had those concerns, but we’ve looked at the storm drainage underground, we’ve had somebody in both of these pipes, walk those pipes with a flashlight, they walked the culvert that goes underneath Silas Creek Parkway and inspected all those and we don’t think there are any other underlying issues,” Rhyne said.

The sinkhole is a testament to why motorists should report potholes to the DOT, for many sinkholes may first mirror the appearance of a pothole.

“It would more than likely look like a depression, they usually start as a small hole and they’ll open up,” Rhyne said.

Crews have poured concrete into the hole to seal it. Over the next few days, they will be slowly adding more until they get it filled to the level that they can seal it off with asphalt.

Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area if possible.