From tiny cavities MIGHTY sink holes do form

By David F. Rooney

The first photos of the sink hole that ate Airport Way on June 22 didn’t look like much — just a smallish hole in the pavement. But from tiny holes mighty sinkhole do form. And this one was no exception.

From tiny sink holes BIG problems do arise. This was what engineers saw when the sink hole on Airport Way was first reported on June 22. It doesn’t look like much, but the cavity beneath was huge and required the complete excavation of the original culvert, 20 feet below the surface. Revelstoke Current file photo

The sink hole was formed by running water that emerged from a crack in the original culvert that run beneath Airport Way past the base of Red Devil Hill at the curve just before Williamsons Lake.

Apparently the many tons of earth and rock that covered the culvert had shifted sometime in the past, cracking the culvert and allowing water to flow outside the culvert. Gradually that running water eroded the earth away, leaving behind a cavity that grew and grew until it surfaced through the pavement.

Darren Komonosk, operations manager for the Engineering and Public Works Department has told Council that it’s going to cost about $100,000 to finish work on the sinkhole. That was an unexpected cost that will have an impact on the department’s budget, meaning there will be less money for some other projects.

A new culvert has been installed but the backfilling operation is slowed by the fact that the only earth packer the City has access to right now is a small one. The City is also not spending bags of cash on overtime to finish this so judging by the work that still remains it may be sometime after July 17 or 18 before Airport Way is re-opened.

But — Hey! — you can look at these pictures and judge for yourself:

Drive down Airport Way to Williamsons Lake and you’ll find your way impeded by barricades and piles of dirt. You know this is where that sink hole ate Airport Way… but what does that mean? David F. Rooney photo
This is what it looks from the other end, near the base of Red Devil Hill. David F. Rooney photo
Walk past that barricade and you’ll pass a long line of earth and stone piles. David F. Rooney photo
Eventually, you’ll reach the BIG hole that was excavated by City work crews. This is more than 20 feet deep and about 60 feet wide. The old culvert was cracked when the earth that covered it shifted sometime in the distant past. That allowed water to erode the dirt away until a sink hole formed, forcing the City’s Engineering and Public Works Department to address this unforeseen and expensive problem. Airport Way won’t be re-opened until sometime next week. By the way that shovel in the upper center of the photo is sitting on the surface of Airport Way. So that really is a BIG hole. Click on this image to see a larger version of the image. David F. Rooney photo