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I-81 Sinkhole causes traffic delays and damage to vehicles

Sinkhole causes traffic delays on I-81 (Christy Calcagno/WCYB)

Construction crews are at work trying to patch up a 10-foot deep sinkhole on Interstate 81 in Smyth County.

It flattened tires and caused suspension issues for about 10 cars. The sinkhole is near mile marker 40 northbound.

"Right now we've got the left lane closed and traffic was backing up. We have lane closures in affect. It was kind of bottle-necking a little bit, but it has cleared out now so it's moving pretty freely," says Virginia State Trooper Greg Purvis.

It was reported about sunrise as a sinkhole that was about four feet deep.

As crews dug through the asphalt, they discovered it was 10-feet deep .

"The pavement is still pretty much intact but they have to dig down to get to a solid base on it. When I got here there was a hole in the pavement probably four to five feet. But the void goes to at least the center line," says Trooper Purvis.

To fill-up a sinkhole this large, crews will dump truckloads of rocks into the hole to patch it up. Next they'll fill it up with gravel, and finally they'll cover it with concrete so they can clear the roads.

"We have sinkholes quite often on I-81 because of the material underneath the road in this area. It's a very karst region and it's something we see quite often," says Michelle Earl of VDOT.

Traffic is flowing, but crews are expected to work into Tuesday morning.

"Allow a little extra travel time and if you can, alternate using Route 11. It may save you a little time," says Earl.

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