HINTON, WV (WVNS) – The Hinton sinkhole, which has become a growing problem for the local community, has finally seen progress. The sinkhole has proved to be far more difficult to deal with than anticipated because it is actually filled with ash.

Engineers with the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) were hard at work designing a solution for the massive sinkhole impacting Route 20. Bridge crews from several counties gathered this past weekend to erect a temporary bridge. A crew of 16 men and women from District 9, District 10, and WVDOH Central Forces spent most of Friday and Saturday bolting the bridge together. The main span was completed on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, and the bridge reopened to traffic on Sunday, Nov. 20.

The sinkhole is unlike any other the WVDOH has seen before, with a large amount of a very fine ash material washing away beneath both the police station and the roadway itself. The ash is supposedly leftover from an old incinerator that used to exist in the area. In addition, Lead discovered in the material makes the permanent solution more difficult.

Joe Pack, P.E. Deputy State Highway Engineer of Operations, said a 90-year-old drain under the road began failing in June, leading to the collapse. While the WVDOH is used to repairing clogged or collapsed drains, the sheer size of the problem in Hinton required an unconventional approach.

WVDOH work crews installed a 120-foot temporary culvert and fill material under the road, but heavy rains from Hurricane Nicole on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, washed out the fill and made the sinkhole worse.

The quickest way for WVDOH to ensure continued safe travel on WV 20 in the area of the sinkhole was to build a temporary bridge beside the hole. The WVDOH employed a prefabricated bridge “kit” manufactured by the Mabey Bridge Company for the job.

The temporary bridge will be in place until the WVDOH can complete repairs to the existing culvert to restore water flow under the road until a permanent, 300-foot steel drainage structure can be installed. The WVDOH hopes to put the permanent repair out for bid by the end of 2022.