Crews race to fix hole on Bartow street before school starts

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA)- The race is on to fix a massive hole that opened on a Bartow street before the start of the school year.

One day after construction crews finished working on an old sewer line beneath East Wabash Street in Bartow, a depression started forming in the road.

“It started as a small depression probably 3 foot in diameter and within 6 hours it opened to about 70 foot long by 8 foot wide,” Public Works Director Russell Martin said.

Now a 70-foot portion of the road has completely sunken down several feet below the rest of the ground.

“We’ve never seen something like this,” a Bartow City Official told WFLA.

The street and massive hole are located directly in front of the Union Academy Magnet School.

Bartow City Officials are working with a firm to figure out what caused the problem and how to fix it in the weeks before school starts.

We got school starting in about three weeks, so our game plan is to this re opened by the 28th to give us about a week cushion before school starts and teachers return,” Martin said.

Otherwise, students and buses would be detoured as they were the previous school year.

“The school buses and everybody would be parked here and I could even get out of my driveway,” neighbor Patricia Bell said it’s not something she is looking forward to. “In the mornings you can’t get out of the driveway and in the afternoons you can’t get out.”

City officials are also trying to determine what caused the problem: if the dirt around the manholes wasn’t properly compacted by the company completing the sewer work, or if there was a hole beneath the sewer lines they weren’t aware of.

The city could spend $150,000 to $200,000 to pour grout below the ground to firm up and fix the road.

“Hopefully soon,” Bell said, “and not at my expense.”

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