SCRANTON — A huge hole opened up Wednesday morning along the North Scranton Expressway right in the midst of the snowstorm.
The back tire of a PennDOT plow truck hit the hole very early Wednesday.
PennDOT then closed one lane on both directions of the North Scranton Expressway near downtown Scranton.
PennDOT crews put out cones and signs to keep drivers away from the passing lanes near the beginning of Mulberry Street. Officials said the ground there isn’t safe. They found that out when a big problem opened up when the plow trucks were out in the early morning hours.
“As soon as he went over that area the ground crumbled underneath his back tire. So he went far enough that he didn’t fall into the hole,” said PennDOT spokesperson James May
May said right in the thick of the snow storm plow crews discovered the hole that PennDOT is calling a subsidence. They don’t know yet if it was caused by a mine.
The subsidence is about 4 feet wide and several feet deep. The storm kept traffic at bay, but PennDOT officials say the lanes will be closed there until further notice.
When Dave Rinaldi was on the expressway for his daily commute and saw the subsidence something felt familiar.
“When I saw the signs, the flashing lights, I knew it was in the same place which is right at the end of where the bridge structure is,” Rinaldi said.
The current subsidence looks very similar to a hole that opened up in the same spot back in 2007. Officials filled in the hole then but the fill has been washed away.
PennDOT officials said they still have to figure out how to patch the second subsidence in the spot. And they hope this time the fix is permanent.
“Just depending on the magnitude of what we are dealing with, if we get to the point that we feel it’s going t be a really big operation we may make the decision to go in and do a temporary fix now just to get us through the winter. Then in the spring do a bigger, more permanent, fix,” May added.
Even though crews were busy plowing streets Wednesday in Lackawanna County, PennDOT officials said they did have an engineer look at other areas of the North Scranton Expressway. They said the bridge next to the hole is still structurally sound and the open lanes are safe for drivers.