Sinkholes in the Desert Create Chaos

Written By: Michael Ramirez, PE | Chris Nance, PE

Date: May 17, 2021

Abstract

On July 22, 2017, a sports utility vehicle fell into a sinkhole on La Placita Avenue in El Paso, Texas. The water utility owner, El Paso Water, chose Parkhill, an architectural and engineering firm, to assess the situation and provide a solution. Coordination was vital; the project involved a well-traveled intersection. Parkhill’s team, including Black Stallion Contractors, quickly mobilized to develop a solution. The area’s over 40-year-old storm drainage pipes were corroded, leaving voids in the pipes. Recent rains compounded years of storms eroding soil between the pipes and the pavement above, all contributing to the sinkholes. So, more than 1,350 feet of corroded, duel 48-inch corrugated metal pipe (CMP) was replaced utilizing the open-cut method. During construction, the project team discovered that the corrosion continued into a nearby roadway and into one of the City’s busiest intersections. The condition of an existing single 42-inch pipe was evaluated using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and closed-circuit television (CCTV). The assessment identified numerous potential failure areas. With the danger of more sinkholes, El Paso Water added a second phase to the project, which included the Contractor installing nearly 1,800 feet of trenchless cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) and rehabilitating seven CMP manholes. Using CIPP reduced the number of roadway closures and kept a major intersection open with minimal impact to traffic. El Paso Water used the Texas BuyBoard, a purchasing cooperative for public entities, that saved precious time compared to bidding the project. Parkhill assisted with the coordination, design and construction administration for the project

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