H2O stigmata on Highway 166?September 14th, 2012 by travis baker
The in basket: Michael Shearing of Port Orchard, in an e-mail he titled “Stigmata on Route 166?,” says, “I am curious about the mysterious perpetually weeping roadway in two places on Highway 166. One is about a mile east of Gorst in front of Tony Otto’s law office and the other is about 200 yards west of that in front of what appears to be an equipment storage lot.
“It seems like they first appeared two or three years ago and have been there every day since,” he said. “Water (I assume it’s water) is continually seeping from beneath the roadway/asphalt. No matter how hot in the middle of summer or how cold in the middle of winter (and yes, they do freeze over) these areas are always wet.
“Is this from some kind of underground spring or high water table? If it was from a broken pipe I assume it would have been fixed by now. Any idea what this is and if there are any plans to ’cure’ it?
The out basket: I don’t have any definitive answers for Michael, who is spot-on about the persistence of the leaking. It was there every day during our recent near-historic dry spell, never seeming to flow any faster or slower. I have to take his word about when it began.
The state highway people haven’t replied to my inquiries about this. It’s no surprise that an area at the bottom of a large hill would weep water from above, but just what it is about these two spots that provide less resistance to the water than the rest of the highway, I can’t say.
The one in front of the Otto law office looks like oil, but it’s just water. It must have a chemical component as it discolors the asphalt.
That’s not true of the other leak Michael mentioned, in the driveway of the Thompson’s Pile Driving equipment yard, or two other leaks onto Highway 166 in Port Orchard, both downhill from the roundabout in front of the Hi-Joy Bowl.
Paul Fritts, owner of Thompson’s Pile Driving next to the law office, said he got a call from a state highway official a while back asking if he had a water line leak, but he said, no, they don’t even have a water line through there. And the natural water pressure is great enough that some wells in that area don’t even need pumps, he said. He didn’t recall the name of who called.
You may have noticed mention in the Sunday Sun a while back in a caption under one of the historic pictures that run each week on the cover of the fourth section, of a one-time artesian well in downtown Port Orchard that ran constantly for years. It, too, was powered by uphill water pressure but was corralled into a pipe at the former site of Peninsula Feed, across Harrison Avenue from where it is now. It had a heavy rotten egg smell, as I recall.
Tony Otto didn’t have any explanation for the weeping in the roadway in front of his office. He wonders about danger from ice forming on the wet spot, but said he’s unaware of any accidents there.