By Andra Bryan Stefanoni and Ryan Richardson
GALENA, Kan. —
Geologists with the Kansas Department of Transportation drilled under the eastbound lanes of Kansas Highway 66 at the western edge of Galena on Monday where a large hole in the earth opened up Sunday.
The hole is about 10- to 15-feet across and at least 30-feet deep, according to officials. It is south of the highway and about six feet off of the shoulder.
Motorists were being warned to reduce their speed coming into Galena and eastbound traffic was narrowed to one lane Monday.
According to Dick Ryan, KDOT regional geologist, crews were drilling in different spots near the hole to determine if the void reached under the roadbed.
“We have to drill down at least 30 feet to see what we get into near the highway,” Ryan said. “We will do a few holes to see if the void does in fact, go near the highway.”
If crews do not find any further danger to the highway, they will fill in the hole. That could be completed by Tuesday morning, Ryan said.
“We have some tough material and we are going through bits here, which is to be expected,” Ryan said of the drilling. “This has been roughly two hours for the first dig and then we will move down the road and check again.”
He said the lane closing could continue into the middle of the week if they run into complications.
Ryan said that recent precipitation in the area could have led to the cave-in.
“Most likely there is a void that was mined out at one point and it is just now collapsing because heavy rain or snow can lubricate the soil and you will get that collapse,” Ryan said. “It isn’t an uncommon occurrence in Southeast Kansas, but it is something we take seriously.”
One of the more notable cave-ins in Galena developed under the rear of the Green Parrot Bar, 319 Main St., in July 2006. It caused the rear of the building to suddenly begin sliding into the cave-in. The bar eventually was demolished.