WVDOH shares sinkhole photos, a reminder of why not to drive into high water

CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) road crews from North Charleston recently worked through the night to reopen a road that had been washed out by flooding; now the agency is sharing dramatic photos of the emergency repair as an important safety reminder to drivers.

North Charleston road crews first got a call about high water on Kellys Creek Road near Sissonville at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, and were on site by 6:30 p.m. Runoff from heavy rains washed fence posts, concrete, car tires and other debris into the mouth of a culvert crossing under the road, blocking the culvert.

Instead of flowing through the culvert, the water flowed around and under the road, washing away backfill and leaving a large sink hole.

Crews from North Charleston quickly removed the debris so water could again flow through the culvert. Though the culvert was undamaged, the road had been washed out.

“The North Charleston crew did an excellent job of evaluating the situation and performing the necessary work to re-open the road as quickly as possible,” said District 1 Maintenance Engineer Kathy Rushworth, P.E. “They worked through the night so citizens could safely travel the road the next morning.”

Crews removed the loose material from beneath the road and added eight truckloads of stone to replace the fill that had been washed away. North Charleston crews had the road open to traffic by 1 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, a span of 6 ½ hours.

The washout is a reminder to drivers to beware of high water on roads. Good things take time; bad things can happen fast. In West Virginias mountainous terrain significant damage can occur quickly in a single evening of heavy rain. Some roads can be reopened overnight while others require design work, utility relocation, or specialized techniques. WVDOH puts driver safety first in every situation while reopening roads as quickly as possible for emergency and other vehicles.

“When you see high water overtaking a roadway, turn around,” said Joe Pack, P.E., WVDOH Chief Engineer of District Operations. “It’s not worth the risk to try to drive through. These photos show what words cannot. In high water, what’s underneath may not be the road as you know it. Stay safe, be patient, and our crews will have the roads reopened as soon as they’ve accessed and repaired the damage.”

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