Pipeline, rain figure in Highway 51 closing
Recent heavy rains apparently undermined the pavement near the intersection with Russell Road, causing the pavement to subside.
The depression in the roadway developed at the spot where workers had bored a hole and threaded a natural gas pipe under the highway about three weeks ago.
Officials closed the highway shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, and roadway was torn up for repairs. It was expected the highway would reopen, with a gravel surface, sometime Monday night.
The spot will be paved over, possibly later this week, said Todd Matheson, highway maintenance supervisor for the state Department of Transportation.
Matheson said the hollow under the road would be filled with larger stones that will be unlikely to wash out.
Matheson said the depression in the highway’s surface had been noted for some time, and efforts were made to patch it. But a crack developed in the pavement and the hollow under the road became visible.
The highway at that point was asphalt on top, concrete on the bottom with gravel sandwiched in between. The concrete was holding the road up, Matheson said.
A hole could have opened up if repairs were not made, Matheson said, but he said the hollow was not large enough to be what is normally considered a sinkhole that would swallow a car.
The 30-inch diameter, coated-steel pipe is part of a natural gas line that a contractor for ANR Pipeline has been installing in Janesville to supply parts of southern Wisconsin.
The line has no gas in it, yet, said Michael Barnes, spokesman for TransCanada, which owns ANR Pipeline.
Barnes said ANR or the contractor would pay for the repair.
“We know this is an inconvenience for the community, and we are trying work with the DOT to effect repairs immediately and get the road open,” Barnes said Monday afternoon. “We ask people to bear with us.”