'If you get to close to it, it could collapse and take people with it.' Workers start repairs on 20-foot Terre Haute sinkhole

Workers and city officials are looking into what caused a 20-foot sinkhole to open up in downtown Terre Haute.

Posted: Sep. 13, 2018 6:54 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- A 20-foot deep sinkhole opened up in downtown Terre Haute Wednesday. After a Terre Haute Fire Truck drove over the spot at the intersection of 4th and Ohio streets. 

The sinkhole was big enough to fit a full sized car.

Thursday, workers started to repair and fill the massive hole. They were getting debris out and digging down further to find the pipes underneath, trying to figure out the root of the problem. 

We spoke to city leaders to see what caused it in the first place.

"It gets to the point where there's enough of a void underneath the pavement that the pavement can't hold itself anymore," said Brad Utz, Director of inspection for the department of engineering. "That's when the sinkhole happens." 

Officials said that the cause may be because of the more than 100-year-old sewage lines. 

They say something needs to be done, and soon.

"If you get to close to it, it could collapse and take people with it," Utz said. 

No one wants to see this bizarre occurrence, turn into a dangerous accident.

"There are places where the pavements, there's nothing under it still, right now," he said. 

Workers and officials are trying to figure out how long it will take to repair the damage"

"It's dependent on what is causing it, how big the hole is and whether there are any peripheral issues," Utz said. 

This isn't the first sinkhole that Terre Haute has seen and workers told us, they can tell from the foundation that this particular area has been repaired many times. 

Now, officials are trying to figure out if there is a way to prevent this from happening in the future. Utz said, as of right now, they don't have a foolproof plan. 

"I mean what do we do? Just drive the whole city? I mean we can't see through the pavement," Utz said. 

He says anyone, can help to identify a sinkhole.

"Sometime they'll start sinking a little bit and then we can see it and keep an eye on it and catch it before it actually happens like this," he said. 

He explains that they look like perfectly round dips in the road. They will continue to grow until they collapse. 

For now, the intersection of 4th and Ohio is closed to all traffic. Utz said it will take at least a week to repair and open up the roads. 

He said that everyone should stay away from the sinkhole until they get it repaired.

All of the businesses around the intersection are still open and accessible.

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