Buried railroad ties blamed for Rusk Co. sinkholes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Buried railroad ties blamed for Rusk Co. sinkholes

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Rusk County (WQOW)- Buried railroad ties are being blamed for causing several sinkholes near a Rusk County dam last fall.

Crews discovered a number of small depressions near the dam in October.  They were concerned those could cause the dam to fail, and lead to major flooding. Xcel Energy took precaution to make sure that wouldn't happen, lowering the flowage 14 feet to reduce pressure on the dam.

Luckily, the dam did not fail. But until now, the cause of the sinkholes had remained a mystery.

Recently engineers found that a wooden railroad trestle was near the dam that dates back to 1922. Over the past 90 years it has been disintegrating underground. That eventually caused depressions to form on the embankment near the dam.

To prevent any future sinkholes from forming crews plan to drill into the ground and remove the rotting railroad ties. They will then fill the holes with sand or concrete. Work on that project will begin this spring.

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