A half-mile stretch of 15th Avenue in Anchorage is closed to vehicle traffic due to a sinkhole that appeared Thursday morning. There were no injuries.
Anchorage Street Maintenance crews shut down 15th Avenue between Orca Street and Lake Otis Parkway to inspect and repair it. Manager Paul VanLandingham said he thinks repairs will be done and the street will reopen early Saturday.
VanLandingham said the hole itself was about the size of a loaf of bread when his crews first responded. Cameras and excavation revealed that a 36-inch drainage pipe beneath the road had collapsed in two places.
“It’s just aged, just one of those things,” he said. “A lot of this infrastructure around town, you know, starting to show its wear and tear, age, and this is just one that popped up on us.”
His division responds to about two or three sinkhole incidents a year.
He said basins and drains like this get inspected yearly. Normally before a failure, he said, “you can see depressions in the asphalt, some cracking, hollow sounds.”
“You can feel it,” he said. “You can feel it as vehicles are going by, you know? Movement and stuff like that.”
He said there were no tell-tale signs in this case.
Sinkholes have caused several notable road shutdowns in recent years around Anchorage:
- In July 2021, an underground wooden cistern failed, causing a sinkhole that shutdown two lanes of the Glenn Highway.
- In May 2021, a wooden septic system failed beneath 5th Avenue near Merrill Field.
- In November 2020, a water main break and sinkhole closed part of Debarr Road.
- In December 2019, a sinkhole shutdown Northern Lights Boulevard near UAA Drive.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a revised estimate from the street maintenance division manager about when 15th Avenue would reopen.