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Sinkhole caused by damaged manhole appears on North Pagosa Boulevard

Road to close May 23 for repairs


North Pagosa Boulevard between Lakeside Drive and Glen Eaton Drive will close for approximately one week beginning Thursday, May 23, to allow for repairs after a sinkhole opened.

A sinkhole was identified on North Pagosa Boulevard between Lakeside Drive and the bridge over the outlet of Village Lake in the late afternoon of May 21, Archuleta County Communications Specialist Ashley Springer explains in a communication to The SUN.

She states that the hole was initially identified by Road and Bridge Manager Eric McRae as he was driving through the area and that he stopped his vehicle and began diverting traffic around the hole as soon as he identified it.

As discussed at the May 21 work session of the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), Commissioner Ronnie Maez, County Attorney Todd Weaver and Interim County Manager Jack Harper arrived later to view the hole.

Following an investigation, Springer explained at the work session, the cause was determined to be a compromised Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) sewer manhole.

In an interview, PAWSD District Engineer/Manager Justin Ramsey explained that the manhole was buried under the roadway due to the roadway being built up without the manhole being raised, meaning that PAWSD “had never actually been in it.”

Ramsey stated that a hole in the side of the manhole allowed runoff-saturated soil under the roadway to move into the PAWSD sewer system and be washed away, thus creating an approximately 3-foot-by-3-foot void under the road.

He commented that, due to the manhole being buried, PAWSD was unaware of this until the void became large enough and the asphalt surface of the road collapsed into it, forming the sinkhole that McRae initially detected.

North Pagosa Boulevard was reopened the next morning, Ramsey stated Tuesday, adding that the hole is filled with a temporary material while PAWSD works on the design and purchase of a new manhole to replace the buried one.

The road will have to be closed again when the installation occurs, Ramsey indicated.

He added that the installation will also require PAWSD to put in place a “pump around” involving placing a temporary sewer pipe above ground to divert sewage while the manhole is replaced.

In a May 22 communication, county Public Works Director Mike Torres explained that PAWSD staff indicated to him that it would begin the repair process on May 23.

According to Aaron Burns and Andy Conner, of PAWSD, the closure will be to place a concrete pad, and will involve the closure of North Pagosa Boulevard between Lakeside Drive and Glen Eaton Drive for approximately one week to allow the concrete to cure.

Burns and Conner added that later repairs will involve relocating the manhole outside of the roadway, which will involve another, brief closure.

Ramsey indicated that issues such as deteriorated manholes, line breaks or water leaks within the PAWSD system can be reported by calling the PAWSD offices at (970) 731-2691.