Inquirer: What's with the barrel in the middle of the road?

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comApril 20, 2014 

Mike Owen/mowen@ledger-enquirer.comCity officials say workers will soon repair the small sinkhole at the intersection of Francis and Henry streets in Midtown.

I got a voicemail from a Concerned Midtown Reader named Nigle, who wants to know what's up with the big orange barrel in the middle of the road just off Wynnton.

"I thought you might want to take a look at the sinkhole that's developing at the intersection of Francis Street and Henry, next to the (Midtown) post office," he said. "The city keeps putting a barrel in it, but the hole just keeps getting bigger and the barrel keeps getting banged around. Anyway, after a couple of weeks of that, it looks pretty rough. Thought you might want to take a look at it."

I'm always happy to look at stuff in Midtown, especially if I can do it on the way to or from work and still file for mileage. (Kidding, Boss.) Sure enough, a little out into the intersection in the middle of Francis is a big orange barrel sitting a bit whompy-jawed (that's a civil engineering term) in what appears to be a small sinkhole.

Of course, calling it a small sinkhole is purely subjective. The definition of a "small sinkhole" is one that's on someone else's property.

I called city Director of Public Works Pat Biegler to see if she knew anything about it. She did a little rooting around and came back with the reason it hasn't been fixed yet. They first had to determine whose problem it is.

"This one went back and forth between us and the Water Works," Biegler said. "But we've determined it's probably ours, so we've put in a ticket and unless the weather is bad, we should have someone out there next week."

Which would be this week, because that was last week.

What is likely happening, Biegler said, is that a joint in a pipe has separated, which not only allows water to leak out, but allows soil to wash back into the pipe, creating a void beneath the asphalt.

"Once we see it start to sink a little, we know there's a problem there," she said.

So as soon as next week, a city crew will uncover the problem and repair it. Unless they determine it's a sanitary sewer line, in which case, they'll call in the Water Works. If it's a storm drain line, the city will handle it.

But either way, someone's going to be out there soon to get 'er done.


Remember the creek behind the house on Savannah Drive we reported on a few weeks back? The one with the creek bank erosion problem.

Well, the city has been at it. They've cut down several trees, and they've gotten down into the creek bed with heavy equipment. It's clear that they're making progress, but to tell you the truth, it looks like seven different kinds of hell at the moment.

Alas, such is the case in repair jobs when they're underway.

It's like plastic surgery. You're going to get uglier before you get better looking.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or

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