Sinkhole in Sylva causes road closure

A leaking pipe in downtown Sylva has resulted in a sinkhole that’s had the road connecting the town’s main streets closed since Thursday.

Dan Schaeffer, Sylva’s public works director, got a call that something was amiss around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, and began working with the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority and the N.C. Department of Transportation to address the issue, he told the town board during its June 22 meeting. 

Keener Street, which runs past the base of the Jackson County Public Library to connect Mill and Main Streets, has been closed ever since along with the left turn lane on Mill Street connecting to Keener. The library is still accessible, however. 

“There’s been an interruption,” Town Manager Paige Dowling said of traffic flow downtown, particularly for cars headed down U.S. 23 from Dillsboro and particularly around noon and 5 p.m.

The DOT expects that work will continue through Thursday, June 29, allowing the road to reopen sometime that afternoon. 

When crews first responded to the situation Thursday, the sinkhole appeared as a handful of barely noticeable depressions in the pavement on Keener Street. The situation was the result of a large-diameter storm drain with a failure at its connection, which caused water to leak into the soil and create a void as the soil washed away. 

However, the sinkhole got worse Friday afternoon, said TWSA Director Dan Harbaugh. On Monday DOT crews began digging to correct the problem. Traffic is being routed around the closure, with workers holding signs and flags to direct drivers. 

Fixing the pipe will involve digging a trench around it, cutting the old pipe out and replacing it. 

The repairs are covered through the Jackson County DOT branch’s maintenance budget, as the road in question is a DOT road and TWSA town employees are helping with the effort. 

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