Baldwin Street reopened to traffic at approximately 11 a.m. Tuesday after an approximately 20-by-20-feet area of the roadway was repaved. A hole in the pavement discovered on Thursday grew to a sinkhole that led to the closing of Baldwin Street between Prospect Street and Glenwood Avenue on Friday.

The affected portion of Baldwin Street is once again open to vehicles, but additional repairs will be required, according to Public Works Director Nathan Zieziula.

“We do have some work to do,” Zieziula said.

Repairs to the ruptured sanitary sewer line that caused the sinkhole were completed Saturday. Problems with the nearby stormwater culvert and a 30-inch stormwater pipe that feeds into the culvert must still be addressed, Zieziula said.

Repairs to the mortar in the culvert wall will likely take one day to complete and could be done next week, Zieziula said. A hole in the 30-inch terra cotta stormwater pipe will be repaired by a contractor and will first require televised inspection, after which liner materials to repair the hole will be ordered. Zieziula said he hopes to have a contractor complete the televised inspection next week.

The sewer line runs about seven feet under the street, according to Zieziula. The box culvert, which runs perpendicular to the street and carries an unnamed tributary of French Creek, is approximately 25 feet under the roadway. The 30-inch pipe runs parallel to Baldwin Street and transports water from several catch basins located further north on Baldwin Street into the culvert.

The sewer line appears to have sagged and eventually broken due to a void underneath it, according to Zieziula. The culvert may have played a role in creating the void, Zieziula said, but the sewer line may also have contributed to the void by leaking prior to breaking.

Erosion has occurred between the culvert’s sandstone blocks on the wall opposite where water shoots out from the 30-inch stormwater pipe, Zieziula said, and over time, the resulting washout probably contributed to the void under the sewer line.

In repairing the sewer line, the break in the 30-inch stormwater line was discovered as well. Ashley Porter, the city’s consulting engineer, did not believe the hole in the stormwater line contributed to the sinkhole, Zieziula said.

Zieziula said no waste from the sanitary sewer line was evident in the culvert, though it “was leaking quite a bit, so the material under the sewer line was a saturated muck.”

Though it was unclear how long material between the sandstone blocks of the culvert had been washed out, Zieziula said workmanship of the approximately 4-foot tall pipe is “pretty impressive.”

“It’s pretty neat to see that something built 100 years ago is holding up pretty well,” he said. The culvert may have been installed in the early 20th century, though it could be even older, Zieziula said.

Repairs to the interior walls of the culvert will allow for an even closer inspection of the craftsmanship, but Zieziula was less excited about that opportunity.

“It’s not a very comfortable place to be in for a long period of time,” he said.

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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