Crews work to repair sinkhole in downtown Paducah

If you drive on South 3rd Street in downtown Paducah, you may notice extra traffic.

On Tuesday, crews shut down one lane for roadwork on a sinkhole drivers had to dodge the day before. A hole under the road caused the surface to cave in.

The sinkhole is between Kentucky Avenue and Broadway Street. That section of the right-hand lane is blocked by barriers. 

The sinkhole was originally about 2 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, but workers dug into the entire chunk of road to make sure there were no other holes or issues under the street. Now, they just have to fill it in with concrete so you can drive on it again.

The road outside Tony Veltri’s office is always busy, but Tuesday he’s seen some extra commotion outside his window.

"Little hole, big deal," Veltri says.

He says it started on Monday when the road started caving in, forming a sinkhole and causing cars to stop or swerve around it.

"About 30 minutes later the state showed up with all kinds of trucks and signs and things,"  Veltri says.

The Paducah-McCracken County Joint Sewer Agency is in charge of repairing about 400 pipes in the area. JSA Executive Director John Hodges says first crews had to figure out the root of the problem.

"Most agencies in this area will call us to do the investigation, because there are so many pipes under the road," Hodges says.

Hodges says three things can cause a sinkhole: a defect in a pipe, settling on the roads because they were built so long ago, or heavy rains.

Hodges says in this case heavy rain caused air pockets under the concrete, and the road caved in.

"They’re not very common. You’re not going to find one a month, but we’ll find a couple in a year," Hodges says.

He says they usually happen in the older areas of town, where the pipes are more likely to have holes, causing dirt that holds up the road to cave in.

"Since it’s the 24 business loop, there’s all kinds of traffic," Veltri says.

Veltri hopes the repairs finish up soon, so all that traffic can make its way past his door.

Hodges says the sink holes usually start out small, about the size of a cup. So, if you see one, you can call the city, the sewer agency or the state if you’re on a state highway.

Hodges says work could be complete as early as Wednesday.

The JSA spends about $1 million per year replacing area pipes in an effort to prevent these types of problems.