If you've driven down Copeland Avenue in La Crosse in the past few weeks, you've probably noticed something in the middle of the road. It isn't really causing traffic delays, but it is forcing drivers to pay closer attention.
For about a month now there have been barricades in the middle of Copeland Avenue, forcing drivers to steer clear of a football-sized hole in the road. The missing chunk of asphalt is actually a sink hole and city of La Crosse officials say sink holes aren't uncommon in La Crosse.
Even on the gloomiest of days when you're driving southbound on Copeland Avenue there are some bright colors warning you of what's ahead.
"I guess I would consider it a sink hole," Jared Greeno, superintendent of the La Crosse wastewater treatment plant, said.
Greeno said the sink hole has formed due to a cracked pipe under the street.
"We've had unusual weather this spring, we had a river stage of 13 feet. When the river stage is at 13 feet ground water in this area of town is an issue," he said.
Greeno noted that when water levels rise to near flood stage, the water causes soil to shift and move around, creating a sink hole.
"When the river stage was high we said, 'Just wait for it to go down, we're going to notice some utilities failing in different areas.' You know when you have 190 miles of sanitary sewer in the ground or 170 miles of storm sewer in the ground once and a while you have a failure," Greeno said.
To fix the pipe the city put a camera down the sink hole to identify the problem.
"We assess the damage and with this one what we'll do is we'll use a fiberglass liner," Greeno said. Fixing the pipe with a liner instead of replacing the whole pipe is both cost effective and won't force the city to close Copeland Avenue.
"Even though right now you can see we have some barricades around that hole and traffic has to slow down a little bit to get around that, all in all by doing a repair without digging will be a cheaper alternative," Greeno said.
Over the past few weeks the number of barricades surrounding the hole has decreased.
Greeno says he understands it may be inconvenient and may cause traffic delays, but he is asking drivers to just be cautious and slow down.
The pipe and sink hole will be fixed within the next two weeks.
The city has received bids from contractors but there is no official word yet on the cost of the project.