Sinkhole in Beaufort's waterfront park under repair

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 1, 2013 

More than two months after it appeared, a sinkhole in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is getting filled.

Repairs are coming just in time for the 58th Annual Beaufort Water Festival, which is July 19 to 28.

The repair was a one-day project, but the area will remain roped off until the beginning of next week so bricks can be replaced and concrete has time to cure, said Beaufort assistant public works director Lamar Taylor.

The hole is near the pavilion, next to planters. It appeared after an old storm drain began to collapse, starting out as a 2-foot opening that narrowed to 18 inches.

To find and repair the problem, the hole has been expanded several feet. Instead of simply filling the hole -- which would have been only a temporary fix -- workers allowed the tide to rise and fall for several weeks so the leak could be properly identified, Taylor said.

Savannah geotech firm Terracon studied the problem and prepared repair designs, he said. In the meantime, the hole was covered with plywood and blocked to pedestrians.

Fabric was placed in the hole, followed by two to three feet of granite, and then a mixture of cement, sand and water, Taylor said. The repairs filled in all of the nooks and crannies and should help prevent future holes.

Some leaks are to be expected, since the park is essentially a platform built over pluff mud, Taylor said. During the mid-2000s, a number of sinkholes opened, but there have been fewer problems recently, Taylor said.

"It's nothing that we don't deal with every day," he said. "Whenever you have water moving through pipes, you can get leaks."

If the city handles repairs in-house, it typically costs about $1,000, Taylor said. This repair will cost about $6,000, which is normal when an outside firm is brought in to do the work, he said. Public-works crews did much of the investigating and excavating to keep costs lower.

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