Collapse closes part of Main Street

Crews from the city and PermaCorp dig out a large hole to replace part of a sewer line and fill in a large underground collapse
Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

A small hole turns into a big problem for West Point Water and Light and drivers who use Main Street east of downtown frequently.

But it hopefully will be better by this afternoon.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, a motorist noticed a large hole in the eastbound lane of Main Street just west of Calhoun Street. City crews checked it out and closed the eastbound lane.

At daylight Tuesday, they realized the hole was a significant underground collapse, likely caused by a problem with the sewer line that runs about 12 feet under Main Street.

Because it was an emergency, the city called in Columbus-based PermaCorp to repair an area roughly 10 feet wide, 30 feet long and 12 feet deep.

A hole in the sewer line had been slowly washing out the road foundation until the collapse occurred.

City leaders are thankful on several fronts.

“I’m just glad a car didn’t run off in it. That could have been terrible,” Mayor Robbie Robinson said.

“It’s probably good that it was in the middle of the lane rather than on either edge. Cars probably just drove over it,” added Fire Chief Ken Wilbourne.

“There’s no telling how long that hole has been in the pipe, just slowly eroding away under there when we got rains,” Water and Light Manager Boodro Marsac said.

“It’s an old pipe so it could have been a long time,” he added.

Permacorp replaced a section of the pipe Tuesday evening and the road remains closed this morning between Calhoun and Mulberry streets.

Crews will return this morning and fill the hole in with dirt and the road will be reopened, “Hopefully by 2 or 3 Wednesday afternoon,” Marsac said.

Once the dirt has settled properly, the stretch will be repaved.

The hole in the line and resulting collapse is emblematic of a widespread problem city leaders have been discussing for weeks.

The old lines are filled with holes, roots and collapses that allow significant amounts of rainwater and runoff to seep into the lines, overworking the city’s sewage treatment plant and lagoons.

Repairs to about 21,000 feet of lines along the city’s eastern edge will cost as much as $1 million. The city hopes to have a plan finalized for those repairs and financing in place by the end of this year.