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Germantown sinkhole finally repaired

Hurley Boulevard in Germantown will reopen this week for the first time since a pipe collapsed and formed a sinkhole on July 22, Montgomery County Department of Transportation chief engineer Bruce Johnston announced.

Johnston said Hurley Boulevard should open again on Friday after the old pipe that collapsed was pumped with flowable fill, which is a cement-like liquid used to cut off water from flowing into a pipe, which should prevent another problem.

“When it cures, we’re not going to be worried about the road collapsing anymore,” Johnston said. A piece of the southbound lanes had been cut out to fill in the hole, which will be paved on Tuesday, Johnston said. The sewage from the old pipe is now being redirected as well, so no water will be flowing through the sinkhole area until a new pipe is built, he said.

Despite getting the road opened again, Johnston said the current solution is temporary. With the old pipe cut off from running water due to the cement, the sewage and water will now flow into a current, working pipe. Johnston said this pipe is good for emergency situations, but will not be enough to handle the heavy rain that caused the old pipe to burst in the first place.

There are plans for a new pipe to replace the one that collapsed, but right now the water is being redirected from the old pipe to one running parallel to it, Johnston said. The new pipe will be constructed slightly south of the sinkhole, and construction will begin in the next few weeks, he said.

Johnston said the County was getting the permits together for permission to replace the pipe, and its collapse turns this into an emergency scenario, which makes it easier to streamline the process. 

Even though the road is now open, the process was ‘more complex than anyone anticipated,” Johnston said. “We’ve certainly had some setbacks due to weather.” 

The contractor who worked on the old pipe was supposed to start drilling holes to pump in the cement-like liquid as early as Friday, but that did not happen, as two machines broke down. The initial gravel used to fill the hole was also washed away by rain over the weekend, further delaying the process.

The sinkhole occurred on July 21 when a rusted pipe failed from heavy erosion as a result of heavy rainfall that swept through the County that weekend. A day later, the County brought in hundreds of tons of gravel to fill the hole, Johnston said.

According to Johnston, Montgomery County doesn’t have naturally-occurring sinkholes, so any sinkholes in the County are usually weather-related. A true sinkhole, he said, is the result of limestone eroding away, and Montgomery County does not have the topography for that to happen.

@jfitzgerald52

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