A major intersection in south Edmonton with a massive sinkhole under it will remain closed months longer than expected, utility provider EPCOR confirmed Wednesday.
The intersection at 61 Avenue and 109 Street has been closed since October 2020, when a 23-metre — or 75-foot— deep sinkhole was discovered.
EPCOR said the hole in the Parkallen neighbourhood opened up on Oct. 12, as a result of an “underground void” that had been discovered on Oct. 8 during an inspection of a sewer trunk line.
The emergency drainage repair work led to road closures and traffic disruptions in the area.
Work to repair a massive hole was initially expected to take until May 2021 to complete, due in part to waiting for a specially fabricated fiberglass pipe to arrive from Dubai.
EPCOR said in December there weren’t any manufacturers in Canada who could construct this specific pipe, due to the unique oval shape of the 1.65-metre wide trunk line, which carries both storm and sewer drainage. Manufacturing and delivering the pipe from Dubai to Edmonton was expected to take eight weeks, but on March 27, the company said the pipe had arrived and was ready to be installed.
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The intersection isn’t expected to reopen until the end of July.
In an update Wednesday, EPCOR said that was due to ground stabilization work and challenges with the extremely cold temperatures last month.
The void above the trunk line was filled in December, after which a ground stabilization study showed additional air pockets still existed, making the area within the work site unstable and unsafe.
EPCOR said the extremely cold temperatures during a cold snap that lasted for much of February delayed the stabilization work, also adding to the project timeline.
“Emergencies are not predictable,” said a statement from EPCOR on Wednesday.
“Initial timeline estimates in an emergency are always tentative, as the condition of the assets are unknown and the full scope of work could expand as the emergency evolves.”
EPCOR said additional cleaning of the trunk line is underway and the installation of the new pipe is expected to be done at the end of April.
It will then be connected to the existing underground infrastructure in May, and a bypass will be removed. EPCOR said that was anticipated to be done in May as well.
After that, EPCOR said crews would convert repair shafts into manholes for future access to the line.
The intersection will remain closed until the work is complete. EPCOR said there was no structural risk to homes or businesses in the area. The intersection is surrounded by residential homes, a Husky gas station and a McDonald’s.
“We recognize the delay continues to affect traffic flow in the area and we thank motorists, residents and area business owners for their patience and understanding while our crews continue to complete this emergency work,” EPCOR said.
More information about the project, along with a full list of the road closures and detours, can be found on EPCOR’s website.
— With files from Caley Ramsay and Allison Bench, Global News