British Columbia

A large sinkhole keeps opening on a Prince George road and no one knows why

A recurring sinkhole near downtown Prince George has left city workers at a loss despite several weeks of trying to solve the problem, and the cost of repair will now be "certainly over $100,000," according to city staff.

Repairs not likely complete until September, with costs 'over $100,000 or more', city says

City crews in Prince George have been unable to figure out the cause of a recurring sinkhole that's opened on city streets, cutting off traffic for several weeks. (City of Prince George)

A recurring sinkhole near downtown Prince George has left city workers at a loss despite several weeks of trying to solve the problem, and the cost of repair will now be "certainly over $100,000," according to Dave Dyer, the manager of engineering and public works.

So far, city crews have dug nearly five metres into the ground to try and find the root cause of the hole, which was discovered shortly after a major storm hit the city on June 20.

It's also cut off two lanes of traffic, and it is believed the entire intersection at Winnipeg Street and Carney Street may have to be closed before the hole is refilled.

It's the fourth time in as many years a sinkhole has opened at the intersection of Winipeg Street and Carney Street. A hole first opened at the location in 2014, following a watermain break, then again that year and once more earlier in 2018.

Although city staff believe the cause of the current sinkhole is either a damaged stormwater pipe or manhole, so far that's simply an educated guess, Dyer said.

To find the cause, the city needs to dry the area out and clean up sediment in order to fully expose the pipe. Work is now underway on building a sheet pile dam in order to cut off water flow from the nearby Carrie Jane Gray Park.

"Hopefully, we find [the problem]," he said. "Then we have to figure out how we're going to fix it."

Prince George general manager of public works Dave Dyer says water from a channel in Carrie Jane Gray Park will have to be prevented from flowing through a pipe where a large sinkhole has opened up. (Audrey McKinnon/CBC)

Safety regulations mean that for every metre dug the hole needs to be widened as well, so it's likely the entire four lanes of traffic will be blocked off, Dyer said.

The city will also have to put temporary infrastructure in place to divert water in case of another major storm.

Dyer said should everything go according to plan, it will still be up to six to eight weeks before the road is reopened. 

With files from Audrey McKinnon.

Read more from CBC British Columbia

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.