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Increased rainfall contributing to sinkholes around KC metro, experts say

Posted: 5:57 PM, Jun 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-24 18:57:33-04
Gillham Rd road collapse.jpg

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Late Monday morning, heavy machinery moved into Midtown Kansas City, Missouri, to repair a portion of road that caved in because of ruptured water and sewer lines.

"I was not expecting a hole of that magnitude. It was a huge hole," Ciaran Molloy, a midtown resident said.

The hole wasn't the first to appear in a Kansas City roadway in the last few days.

On Friday morning, the road gave way on 67th street in Merriam.

Later that evening, KCMO water crews were called to a sinkhole on W. 44th and Main streets near the Country Club Plaza.

Experts say the increased rainfall is a likely culprit.

"Water has a lot of force and it’ll tear a lot of stuff up," Brian Ross, a superintendent at Kissick Construction said.

The company is handling the repairs on Gillham Road.

"Rain like we’re having now is basically acting like a lubricant. It kind of speeds everything up and water is extremely heavy. Try carrying five gallon bucket, you’ll know that," Scott Hageman, an associate professor of geology at Park University told 41 Action News.

Hageman explained there are two types of sinkholes. One is formed naturally.

"Where the water is literally like an acid chewing up the limestone and you’re literally carving out this huge opening," he said.

The other type are those in urban areas that are usually man-made.

"Kansas City probably has a lot more that are actually going to be human construction. So, like water pipes, sewage lines that have leaked and have carved out a hole and the soil above has collapsed onto that," Hageman said.

There are some indicators to look for before the ground opens up.

"Are your trees starting to slope? Are your fence posts starting to dip in a certain direction? Any type of movement like that, it could be slow natural creep or it could be the formation of a sink hole right near there," Hageman said.

Back in Midtown Kansas City, once water service is restored to two nearby apartment buildings, they'll replace the 60-inch pipes that carry waste and stormwater.

The work is expected to happen in the next day or two.

Gillham Road between E. 36th Street and Armour Boulevard is closed to through traffic while repairs take place. KC Water reminds drivers not to drive around the traffic barriers.