Crews working to fix sinkhole; detours could affect nearby first responders

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A portion of Central Avenue Pike is closed to through traffic after a sinkhole opened up Monday.

Knoxville Storm Water and Public Service crews are working to fill the hole in the 5500 Block of the road, north of Merchant Drive and Cedar Lane.

Many cars had to take a detour to get around the sinkhole. That also includes first responders’ vehicles.

“We have people coming here and turning around right in front of the fire station so that can create a problem,” said Peter Hayes, the Chief at Fire Station 14.

There are several signs on Central Avenue Pike saying the road is closed, but that hasn’t stopped drivers from trying to pass.

“If somebody tries to cut through, it’s not safe for them and it’s not safe for us,” explained the City of Knoxville Storm Water Engineer, David Hagerman.

The sinkhole stopped traffic on what is usually a heavily traveled road.

“East Tennessee and Kentucky, we’re in course terrain so sinkholes can pop up just about anywhere where we have this limestone underground,” said Hagerman.

Those who drive on the road frequently realized there was an issue with the pavement and now the city’s Public Service Crews are working to fill the hole.

“The road started dipping in so obviously that makes it uncomfortable for drivers,” stated Hagerman.

Hagerman adds, “we’ve done the majority of the work under the one lane of traffic.”

They hope to begin paving the road on Wednesday, but until then, the new detoured route is affecting the fire station nearby.

“It lengthens it a little bit because if we have to drive around the block, so does everybody else,” explained Chief Hayes.

His station covers a wide area from Broadway all the way to Pleasant Hill Road, and they answer several calls a day.

“Anywhere from seven to 15 calls a day,” he said. “We run about 2,500 calls a year.”

They’ll have to take the detour for a few more days to get to some of those calls until the road is fixed.

“When I talked to them this morning they said that the sinkhole is actually bigger than they thought it was so that’s why I think it’s going to take an extra day to get it figured out,” said Hayes.

Both the City of Knoxville Engineers and firefighters say do not ignore the road signs. You can put yourself or those working on the roads at risk. You could also be lengthening the response time of first responders if there is an emergency.

City of Knoxville officials said there was a slight delay due to two fiber optic lines having to be redirected by a private contractor but that the city is back on the project and hopes to be done in the next two days.

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