Rain undermines portion of street

PARKERSBURG – A one-block portion of West Virginia Avenue will be closed for several days as city crews work to repair pavement undermined by rainwater.

A void about five-feet deep has formed under part of the road that goes down a hill from Spruce Street to Murdoch Avenue. City Engineer Justin Smith attributed it to rainwater pouring in through a crack between the pavement and the curb.

The damage is primarily underneath the pavement. The surface shows no significant problems, and the most notable impact is a sidewalk sagging away from the road.

“We closed it for a precaution,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon as he and City Surveyor Randy Sheppard inspected the area.

A retaining wall is being built on property next to the road where a GoMart is to be built, but city officials said there’s no way to know how much, if at all, that contributed to the cracked pavement beside the more-than-20-year-old sidewalk.

Smith noted there has also been plenty of utility work done in the area.

“We don’t really know what caused it,” he said. “They’ve done water line work; they’ve done sewer line work.”

Water had already been getting under the pavement, but heavy rain Tuesday morning likely exacerbated the situation, Smith said. When city crews cut into the road along the crack they found space about five-feet deep where water had washed away material underneath the pavement.

After considering their options, crews decided to remove at least a portion of the road, replace the base under it and cover it with asphalt, Public Works Director Rick Lemley said.

“I think we’re going to go ahead and pull it,” he said. “We’re going to start at the void and see how far it goes.”

The work could begin as soon as today. In the meantime, the road will remain closed.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the city doesn’t expect to contract out the work.

“We’ll fix it in house,” he said.