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Category: Kittanning Borough

Sink Hole Hazardous to Holiday Lights This Friday

PennDOT crews detour traffic on South Water Street onto Jacob Street, then to South Jefferson Street, and back to Market. A meeting today at 2PM will determine how long the detour will be in place.

by Jonathan Weaver

Three years ago, a water problem forced the cancellation of Light-Up Kittanning Night.

Now, just three days before the annual event (appropriately dubbed “Christmas Under Construction”), a smooth holiday event might once again be in-danger.

Yesterday afternoon, Robinson Pipe Cleaning crews identified an eight-foot-deep sinkhole under the right-turning lane of South Water Street near the Market Street intersection.

Less than two hours later (shortly after 4PM), PennDOT District 10 Incident Coordinator Michael Shanshala, III closed both northbound lanes before the evening rush of traffic. South Water Street traffic was detoured to turn right onto Jacob Street.

PennDOT District 10 Assistant County Manager Ken Campbell said yesterday the detour will be still in-place this morning, and until a solution or a more-permanent detour is established.

Senate Engineering Project Manager Phil Herman said that solution could come at 2PM this afternoon at an emergency PennDOT meeting. The meeting will be held in Kittanning Borough’s Council Chambers.

He was not necessarily surprised by PennDOT’s decision.

“I think it was probably prudent on their part. Once their people saw the extent of the issue, they made a call based on their decision variables.”

Further tests this morning are not expected to factor into this afternoon’s decision.

A first look beneath the road surface shows a wooden timber smashing a sewer line. Borough officials will determine today if that line is active or was abandon years ago.

In the early 1920’s, the former wooden plank bridge was moved upstream to allow the current bridge to be built. Huge timber and wooden blocks were installed that stabilized the work. When it was completed, the timber was covered up and left intact. Meanwhile, almost 100 years later, most of that wood has decayed.

Armstrong County Tourist Bureau Board Chairman Jack Bennett and Town and Country Transit General Manager Patti Lynn Baker are also expected to attend this afternoon’s meeting to see how long the road closure might remain.

Most of the Town and Country Transit evening bus runs were re-routed due to the street closure.

“We’ll find out what’s going on for Friday night to determine what else is going on at that point to determine what we’ll be able to do as far as service goes,” Baker said. “Typically, every year (during) Light-up Night, all the roads are closed but we need to have a way to get from the north to the south end of town.

“It’s never been an issue because we could just go up Water Street. We need to see what our options are.”

Town and Country bus service runs until 10:45PM weeknights, and often helps transport residents into downtown Kittanning during Light-Up festivities.

“We want to be able to continue our service at our regularly-scheduled times. People use our service to get back-and-forth to work and shop, especially this time of year,” Baker said. “We already noticed the ridership pick up for the Christmas season.”

First Ward Kittanning Borough Councilman David Croyle climbed into the two-foot-wide, four-foot deep trench to see the sinkhole firsthand. The trench led to a hole “about the size of a basketball” that exposed the sinkhole.

“I think it’s a general consensus that there’s no eminent danger. However, you have to always prepare for the worst, and that’s what PennDOT is doing,” Croyle said. “They’re preparing for the worst that could happen so that it doesn’t happen.”

Croyle said a plan of action will be discussed this afternoon, including how long it takes to correct the problem. Based on conversations with crews and engineers, he estimated the closures could remain until at least next week.

Broken lines were also found in the sinkhole by video captured inside the sinkhole, which worried Kittanning Borough Council and Municipal Sewage Authority leaders. It is unknown if the pipes are still in-use.

Smoke dye testing was also performed before the trench was backfilled.

The detour currently in place will route northbound traffic on South Water Street to Jacob Street, then onto South Jefferson Street, bringing traffic back to Market Street. Those motorists wishing to cross the Citizens Bridge may do so by using Market Street.


PennDOT Shuts Down Intersection Due to Sink Hole Concerns… Find Out More…

Camera Used to Examine Sink Hole in Kittanning… Read more…

Council to Collect Info About Sink Hole… Full story here…

PennDOT Shuts Down Intersection Due to Sink Hole Concerns

PennDOT crews shut down the northbound lane of South Water Street at 4:15 PM on Tuesday, detouring traffic onto Jacob Street, then again onto South Jefferson Street. The detour will remain in place tonight and possibly through the weekend.


PennDOT closed the north bound lanes of South Water Street in downtown Kittanning amid safety concerns that a large sink hole could collapse.

PennDOT District 10 Assistant County Manager Ken Campbell explained the detour route through Kittanning.

“We are going to set up a temporary emergency detour that is going to bring north bound traffic only (southbound traffic will be unrestricted) to turn right on Jacob Street, and then left onto South Jefferson Street, then left again onto Market Street to bring them back out to the (bridge) intersection.”

Campbell said the detour will be in place until a solution is found or a more permanent detour is established.

PennDOT District 10 Incident Commander Michael J. Shanshata said there were concerns at this point with traffic continuing to travel over the portion of the street above the sink hole that is in excess of eight feet deep. Although there has been no indication that the road surface has been compromised, Shanshata said the detour is purely “precautionary” at this point.

A meeting has been scheduled for 2PM Wednesday in Kittanning Council Chambers to review video taken today of the inside of the sink hole and determine a course of action.

Meanwhile, Kittanning Borough and the Kittanning Municipal Sewage Authority has their hands full as they review data that shows their lines under the ground may also have been compromised.

First view of video showed broken lines beneath the surface, but until the information can be analyzed, the could be abandoned pipes no longer in use.


Council to Collect Info About Sink Hole

Senate Engineering Project Engineering Phil Herman discussed the hole found in the right-turning lane on South Water Street at the bridge intersection with Kittanning Borough Solicitor Ty Heller and Council President Andy Peters last night during a special meeting.

by Jonathan Weaver

About four feet underneath the bridge intersection in Kittanning Borough is a hole of nothing.

M&B Services workers found the void Sunday, November 1 while digging a trench across the street to lay conduit as part of burying utility lines for the Streetscape project. The ditch has since been backfilled near the four-way Market Street intersection, but the possibility still exists that the road may also cave in, Senate Engineering Project Engineer Phil Herman said.

“At this point, we know that there’s a sinkhole underneath the road bridged by the concrete, the brick and the pavement overtop of it,” Herman said. “Whether or not we really know the extent is the question.”

Since it is not a PennDOT responsibility – according to PennDOT District 10 Hauling Permit Manager Frank Mouser – PennDOT wanted an answer by today as to what the Borough authorities were going to do about it.

But, during a special meeting last night between Kittanning Borough Council and Sewage Authority members, officials determined they need to know more about the hole before assigning any responsibility.

Today, Robinson Pipe Cleaning, Inc. of Pittsburgh will attempt to shine a light into the hole and use a video camera to determine its structural integrity – or lack thereof.

“That’s the biggest problem here: you think you’re getting into a hole 4-by 3-by 8, and the next thing you know (you could be in a) hole taking up the whole intersection and you’re not prepared to deal with it,” Herman said. “At this point in time, I think any effort you would make would be considered proactive.

“I’m sure if we give them access to the cavity, we can stick something in there and take a look around.”

Council members Kim Fox and David Croyle agreed with Herman’s suggestion before a unanimous vote by the eight council members.

“There’s no way we can give (PennDOT) an answer right now,” Fox said.

“If M&B Services was interested in (opening the trench) with the fact that the camera’s here, sounds like a win-win situation at this point,” Croyle said. “We need to know what that hole is.”

A suggestion was to provide ground-penetrating radar on-site, but it was determined that that idea would not be effective since ground around the void may also be unstable.

Sewage Authority Chair Peter Graff still thought PennDOT should assume some cost.

“Everyone has skin in the game here – including PennDOT – and I think they should share in the some of the expense,” Graff said

GeoMechanics, Inc. Company President Dr. Javaid M. Alvi estimated repairs could be completed in two days for about $30,000.

Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development Assistant Director Carmen Johnson said Streetscape grant funding could be accessed to pay for the repairs, but the money would take away work on other projects.

“Due to the nature of the location in close proximity to the river, this is not uncommon, and we happened to stumble across it,” Herman said.

A storm sewer in the immediate area is also in disrepair, but Herman thought it was unrelated to the hole found.

Traffic will be restricted at the intersection and along South Water Street while crews conduct tests today and tomorrow.