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Sinkholes tie up traffic

Published March 20, 2006

Four depressions developed on Alt. U.S. 19 at Klosterman Road here, and two became sinkholes.

TARPON SPRINGS - Nature made a Swiss cheese out of a major North Pinellas intersection Monday.

Four depressions developed on Alt. U.S. 19 at Klosterman Road here, and two became sinkholes, detouring most traffic in the area. Officials hoped to have repairs made in time for the rush hour Tuesday morning. But everything hung on the results of a geotechnical analysis of the cause of the cave-ins, and that data wasn't available Monday evening.

Sinkholes are more common at this time of year, with March, April and May often logging in as the driest months. As water levels in the aquifer fall, the porous and fragile limestone bedrock is exposed and can collapse, pulling down the suface soils and structures.

While it isn't know if the area's protracted dry weather caused Monday's sinkholes, it is something investigators are certain to consider.

The problems actually began about 11:30 p.m. Sunday when a depression formed at the intersection. It opened into a sinkhole overnight.

Crews filled it with 60 cubic yards of asphalt but were unable to stablize it. At 8 a.m. Monday, another depression formed and eventually opened into a sinkhole. There were two additional depressions, as well.

All northbound traffic through the intersection was stopped Monday. Some southbound traffic was getting through despite the fact that the sinkhole appeared in a southbound lane.

[Last modified March 20, 2006, 17:53:02]

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