Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Repair work continues on 5-foot sinkhole at Nazareth Area School District track


Student athletes have been practicing around a 5-foot deep sinkhole next to Nazareth Area School District's new track and field.

The sinkhole, which was found Feb. 28 by a school custodian who had been monitoring the grounds, is being repaired by crews with Bethlehem-based Senick Inc.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Support Services Dennis Riker said drainage problems with snow melting and a great deal of water running off the field had created the sinkhole.

During the repair work, excavation was expanded, Riker said.

“When we dug it up, the dirt was wet and we wanted to get in there to make sure there was nothing else,” Riker said.

He said the process of repairing the sinkhole included excavating 17 feet deep to find what is called the "eye," usually at rock level. The next steps included dumping 6 to 8 inches of rocks into the base of the hole and putting in a fiber screen to keep small sediment from clogging. Crews then used specific stones, which became compacted with clay.

The final step is to lay macadam at the surface of the track, which then needs to be cured for about 14 days, Riker said. He expects the macadam to be put down in coming days.

“We’ll then monitor it to see if there’s any more sinkage, but I don’t think there will be,” Riker said, noting that last week's rain storm dumped 2 inches of water at the site, but didn't disrupt repair work.

Riker estimated the work to repair the sinkhole would be $25,000, but the cost to the district could be less if insurance covers some of it. The sinkhole repair is being funded with budgetary reserves, he said.

Riker said the district wanted crews to spend time on the repair work and excavate deeper to make sure everything was removed before submitting a claim to the insurance company.

“We wanted to get it all in one shot,” he said.

The Nazareth Area High School track team is expected to host a meet on April 5. If repair work is not completed by then, Riker said the meet might be held away. Another meet is scheduled for April 19 and the district hopes the sinkhole is repaired for that event.

“It’s now down to the process,” Riker said. “Everything is going as planned.”


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