40-foot-wide sinkhole closes major Denver freeway at rush hour
February 7, 2008
DENVER – Water from a broken pipeline gouged a 40-foot-wide, 16-foot-deep sinkhole on Interstate 25 near downtown Denver Thursday, shutting down northbound lanes of the busy thoroughfare at rush hour and backing up traffic for at least 10 miles.No vehicles went into the hole near 58th street, which appeared around 3:00 p.m. when it was still daylight. The interstate’s southbound lanes remained open.The water-filled crater spanned three northbound traffic lanes and the right shoulder, authorities said. They were not certain if the damage extended beneath any of the other three northbound lanes.The flood came from a burst 66-inch water main, said the Colorado Department of Transportation.Northbound lanes of I-25 were closed from downtown Denver to Interstate 70, a vital east-west route in the area. Daily traffic in both directions where the break occurred averages up to 199,000 vehicles, said Mindy Crane, a transportation department spokeswoman.Northbound traffic was squeezed into a two-lane High Occupancy Vehicle corridor running past the sinkhole, and several onramps were closed, causing evening rush hour traffic to slow to a crawl for at least 10 miles. Vehicles jammed neighboring city streets as drivers sought alternate routes.Denver Water department crews were pumping water from the hole and digging toward the pipeline so inspectors could assess the extent of damage. It wasn’t known how long repairs to the water main and the roadway would take, Crane said. Contractors were on standby.A similar sinkhole on Interstate 70 near Vail in 2003 took 11 days to fix.