Norfolk on-ramp remains closed, engineers trying to figure out what’s causing soil to move

Posted at 8:22 PM, Mar 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-13 20:22:24-04

Norfolk, Va. - The on-ramp that goes from Hampton Blvd to Brambleton Ave, mainly used by large trucks, is closed.

The road was blocked off two days ago after contractors discovered some of the soil had moved, creating a depression in the embankment.

It's an area about 3x3 feet.  For drivers, it’s not a comforting thought.

"The first thing I thought of was that young man in Florida with the sinkhole," said area resident Helene Simoncini.

It was discovered by SKW Constructors.  They’re doing work in the area for the Midtown Tunnel Project.

How it got there is what engineers are currently trying to figure out.

"We’re not exactly sure what’s going on, if it’s something related to pre-existing conditions, if it’s from the work we did or some combination of both," said Wade Watson, project director for SKW.

Watson says when they first surveyed the area, there was already evidence of soil settling.

They also just completed some work in that area as preparation for the new Midtown Tunnel.

They had to move a water line that was already there to make room for it.  The line ended up in the area where the depression is now located.

Though they’re still trying to figure out what caused it, Watson says they can rule out the possibility of a sinkhole.

"That’s kind of a phenomenon you have of soil overlying a limestone formation.  We don’t have that kind of formation in this area.  We have a clay formation, so a naturally occurring sinkhole is not even a possibility," said Watson.

They’ll be doing some soil testing over the next few days to figure out what’s going on.  Until then, the ramp will stay closed.

"I don’t think it’s a big issue, but we gotta be safe, we gotta know," said Watson.

In the meantime, drivers can use Redgate and Claremont Avenues.  The city of Norfolk has temporarily lifted the truck restrictions on those roads.