Massive sinkhole could swallow police department in West Virginia, officials say

Officials in West Virginia are working to stop a massive sinkhole from swallowing a building that housed a city’s police department.

The sinkhole first opened up on June 14 under state highway 20 near the Hinton Police Department in Summers County, West Virginia after a 90-year-old drainage structure collapsed, according to the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

At first, the sinkhole was only 6 feet wide and 30 feet deep, WVDOT said in a news release. Crews packed the sinkhole with fill material as a stopgap measure while they prepared a comprehensive repair. But heavy rains from Hurricane Nicole on Nov. 11 washed out the fill material and expanded the sinkhole, the department said.

Now, the road and the police department are directly above the sinkhole area. The Hinton Police Department, a force of five sworn officers, according to its Facebook page, vacated the building as soon as the sinkhole opened up in June, according to the WVDOT.

The agency erected a bridge adjacent to the sinkhole over the weekend in an effort to redirect traffic away from the compromised road, a spokesperson said.

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“Additional measures continue in the effort to temporarily divert the stream flow past the failed point in the drainage structure,” the spokesperson told USA TODAY in a statement. “Once that is accomplished, backfill of the sinkhole will begin.”

Work on a permanent repair was ongoing, the spokesperson said. West Virginia state senator Stephen Baldwin said in a Facebook post that a solution had been identified, and it would cost an estimated $5 million

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: West Virginia city police headquarters may plunge into sinkhole

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