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30-Foot Sinkhole Revealed Along I-69 Route

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say they anticipated sinkholes along I-69 and are working to fill them.

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    Photo: Brian Garvey

    Tom Tokarski (right) stands next to a sinkhole in southwestern Monroe County. Disclosure: This photo was taken by Brian Garvey, a member of Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads.

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    Photo: Brian Garvey

    A photo shows the sinkhole before it was partially filled in.

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    Photo: Jinghua Tu/WFIU News

    INDOT has begun to fill in a sinkhole that developed along the path of I-69.

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    Photo: Jinghua Tu/WFIU News

    Construction equipment sites idle along the future route of I-69.

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    Photo: Jinghua Tu/WFIU News

    INDOT says it has planned for sinkholes in Section 5 of I-69 because of the karst topography.

As I-69 construction continues in Monroe County, crews are encountering a number of sinkholes.

The state department of transportation says it is not unexpected given all the karst features in the area. But residents are worried about the impact of the construction on the environment.

Bulldozers and land movers are working to clear a path through southern Monroe County that will eventually become part of I-69.

This phase of the construction is the most challenging because of the karst topography. The construction is exposing large caverns, some 30 feet deep and 15 feet across.

I-69 opponent Thomas Tokarski says building the interstate over these sinkholes poses a threat to the groundwater because pollutants and runoff can seep through openings and into the water table.

“There is a real risk to the environment in that regard too,” he says. “Plus we’re not sure about the impacts of all this digging on personal wells. We’re on a water well and what is this going to do to our well? We have excellent water now. Is that going to contaminate our well? We just have to wait and see.”

INDOT spokesperson Will Wingfield says while these karst features are common throughout the area, the department’s planners have taken necessary precautions to prevent impacts to the water table and environment in general.

“Known karst features are identified on the site,” he says. “There’s measures being taken to filter and minimize runoff going into those features. Then as part of the construction process they’ll be managed and may be capped in order to minimize impact. It’s something that we knew about as we were developing the project and have added that into our schedule to make sure that we’re delivering the project on a timely manner.”

The section of I-69 from Crane to State Road 37 just south of Bloomington is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

A 67-mile stretch of the road from Evansville to Crane opened in November.

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