Lower Wheaton Way, what are you sinking about?

Photo by Tad Sooter.
Photo by Tad Sooter.

Think you’ve heard the last of the Lower Wheaton Way project

Sink again.

On Saturday night, a mysterious void opened up on the newly paved street, near its intersection with Winfield Avenue. City public works crews have since been able to patch the sinkhole, but have not been able to explain why it happened.

City engineer Tom Knuckey told me that crews sent video cameras into sewer and stormwater lines under the street before the project started and after the sinkhole emerged. While a storm drain was replaced about 10 feet from the sinkhole early on in the project, no other problems showed up with the utilities there, he said.

“We had no indication there were voids below the pavement, and the contractor had no way of knowing,” Knuckey told me.

That means the city will have to pay and patch up the work on a brand new street. Knuckey’s best guess is that, given the road’s age — it began as a state highway circa 1930 — there’s many layers of pavement underneath and more of the stuff was just laid over the top in the current $3.4 million project. Plus, the compacting of the new pavement, which uses those massive road rollers, may have knocked something loose.

“It puts a lot of energy into the ground,” Knuckey said.

Sometimes such holes appear when an old, rotting stump deteriorates in the ground, creating a void. Knuckey can only speculate, but that’s a possibility.

In the next few weeks, crews will tear up the temporary patch and dig down in an effort to find the cause. If they cannot, they’ll fill it up with road and pave it over.

Perhaps this just isn’t that big of a deal to begin with, and we should be happy just to have a rare new street in Bremerton. One of my editors, who happens to live on the west side of town, was nonplussed.

“You call it a sinkhole,” he told me. “We call it a pothole.”

5 thoughts on “Lower Wheaton Way, what are you sinking about?

  1. City of Bremerton Personnel Expenditures, Budget 2015 in the amount of $1,755,100 of taxpayer money nets the citizens “speculation” as to the cause AND does nothing to protect them from the additional costs to repair for a project that the paint is not even dry on!!

    1. Welcome to real world Colleen – it’s not a perfect place, and we don’t know the answers to everything.

  2. Come on Colleen, you know the standard. If it’s not severely squeezed down it needs a pothole to “calm” traffic and business activity. You didn’t really think they were actually going to give you a fully functioning road did you?

  3. I went down and looked at it myself and there was no sign whatsoever of any organic material in the hole. It was just a huge hole with sandstone, which is what most of that area has for soil. I just hope they fix it and really it should be on the contractor.

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